Stolen CRU emails: the rejects

Some more of the emails stolen from the Climate Research Centre in 2009 have been released. This time they are accompanied by a readme with out-of-context quotes that asserts the purpose of the release is information transparency, but that's an obvious lie, since they've sat on them for two years and released them just before Durban conference. The timing suggests that the people behind the theft and release have a financial interest in preventing mitigation of greenhouse gas emissions. It is most unlikely that there is anything incriminating in these emails -- if there was, it would have been released two years ago.

Gavin Schmidt is providing context for the emails, Brendan DeMelle has an extensive roundup and Stephan Lewandowsky writes about the real scandal.

More like this

World Exclusive! Must Credit Deltoid!! Deltoid can reveal David Rose's fan letter to Christopher Monckton written after Monckton published his famous Chinese navy disproves global warming article. Rose gushes: Congratulations on your very important and fascinating article. I have two questions. 1…
There have been lots of new developments in the scandal surrounding the paper by Samanta et al misrepresented by a Boston University press release. Simon Lewis, in a guest post at RealClimate, explains how the paper strengthens the IPCC conclusions about the Amazon, rather than weakening them as…
I am going to try to keep all the climate science ice bucket challenges here as they occur. At present there are quite a few individuals who have not yet answered the challenge. I'm sure they will. Some of them, in the Northern Hemisphere, may be waiting for it to get colder so the act becomes…
They invariably get it wrong. This time they've noticed it's cold outside, and they see an news report about colder temperatures in the Antarctic, so they leap to the conclusion that global warming is bunk. Or rather, they always held that conclusion (on faith, no doubt), and are overjoyed to see…

"<2440> Jones: Iâve been told that IPCC is above national FOI Acts. One way to cover yourself and all those working in AR5 would be to delete all emails at the end of the process"

Sound of stable door slamming as horse gallops past!

And what on earth does Jones have that needs to be 'covered'?

Same as any other human, Dai, and a lot less than you have to hide.

Maybe he just doesn't want psychos reading his emails, David.

Why does Jones need to be 'covered',David? Because he wants to actually get some work done,rather than deal with a barrage of vexatious,frivolous FOI requests that are intended to hinder his unit's work.

Have you noticed any significant work from the crusaders for freedom of information,who have already had so much access to data for so long?

You would think that the big story for Watts would be the fact that his government had failed to practice democracy and was facing a massive debt crisis. Instead he is obsessed with this non-story.

It shows just how out of touch he is with general public opinion across the world. He has failed to understand what drives the worlds media. He is a victim of his own belief.

FOI is only a requirement for climate scientists, apparently. Deniers can operate by entirely different rules.

The Guardian has also seen documents showing that GWPF director, Benny Peiser, declined to provide emails requested by at least four freedom of information requests, despite the GWPF's previous calls for openness from climate scientists.

Oh dear.

Simple question.

Are the emails real, or are they a work of fiction?

They are real, and they show awful behaviour by major players in the climate science.

Look at the replies. Other people don't comply with the law, so that means we can break it.

A partially valid one. The debt is the real issue. You bet. However, a major cause of the debt is the climate madness.

He wants to get some work done. The problem is that the works is shoddy and involves attacking other people trying to do their work. In the case of Mann, its raking in the private money, rather than doing his job, paid for by the US taxpayer.

Ah, people reading his emails are psycos. Nothing like attacking the messenger, rather than the message.

It's the same with Watergate. It's the actions and the cover up that are the issues.

I am doing my best to keep you informed because I know how keen you are to have all the information openly available.

From Simon Tett of the MetO in Feb 2005 with emphasis added:

"Keith/Hans/Chris,
Defra do ask the impossible! Can you help me?
Are there other papers I should be aware of? Hans/Chris are the statistical criticisms of Mackintyre and McKitrick OK?
Philip â do you have any thoughts? [Beyond that the paleo community cannot do stats!]"

Von Storch replies:

"Simon,
I think one should list three publications which have stirred some disucsions, namely ours, the one by Anders Moberg and colleagues and Steve Mcintyreâs in GRL.
I would assign the following significance ot these articles (just among us, please):

â ours: methodical basis for hockey stick reconstruction is weak; discussion was unwisely limited by IPCC declaring MBH to be âtrueâ. (Stupid, politicized action by IPCC, not MBHâs responsbilkity.

IPCC did one more of these silly oversellings - by showing the damage curve by Munich Re without proper caveat in the fig caption);"

He continues, and I will leave you to guess who "Mc&Mc" are:

"Mc&Mc: As far as I can say (we did not redo the analysis, but Francis Zwires did) the identfied glitch is real. One should not do it this way."

Did anyone else roll their eyes when they read about this?
Also: do we think the media is going to fall for this yet another time, or will they have learned a couple lessons and ignore it?

Now, if someone was to upload a load of 'whistleblown' email correspondence between, ooh, say, some of the major Rightist thinktanks, a handful of 'skeptics' (*cough*), and the various oil oligarchies - not only would that be genuinely interesting (I'll bet that there wouldn't be too many exonerating inquiries to follow!), but we'd have the fun of watching the Duffs of this world, the Delingpoles of this world, the thinktanks in question, and the rest of their dreary cohort tie themselves in knots denouncing this outrageous violation of privacy etc. etc..

Duff - upload all your email to a server in Russia right now, please. You have nothing to hide, after all. We promise we'll treat your private correspondence with exactly the same level of respect and integrity that your fellow-travellers have demonstrated...

Bill, downloading all my e-mails for you to read/wade through would constitute a 'cruel and unusual punishment'. However I have taken a quick look at "Last Week Sent Items".
Ignoring the 'funnies' which I receive from various friends and forward to others the subject matters last week were, in date order:

:respond to news of a sick friend
:2x mails ref. printing of Xmas cards
:thanking a Rotary club for their cheque - I gave them a talk, weren't they lucky!
:reply to an e-mail from an old neighbour who had moved away
:Forwarding a City column to a friend who invests
:Three mails to friends advising on a forthcoming theatre trip . . .

I can't go on, simply too, too, tedious. I had no idea my life was so boring! Suffice to say that I would have absolutely no embarrassment if all my e-mails were published. However, were I a scientist wishing to communicate a new theory I would positively insist that all - and I do mean 'all' - my e-mails - on the scientific subject were published.

And so far with these 'climategate' e-mails, I have yet to read any of a truly personal nature.

do we think the media is going to fall for this yet another time, or will they have learned a couple lessons and ignore it

Speaking from the perspective of the UK, I think the media is going to be extremely wary of the stolen emails. UK newspapers are being hammered at the moment for the 'phone hacking scandal and other dubious practices (rightly so). Are they going to want to be seen to be using hacked emails at this time?

After their experience the last time, the scientists and universities involved will react a lot quicker and be better placed to handle any media storm. Hopefully, it will also give the police enquiry a bit of impetus. Could this new release actually backfire on the loons?

By lord_sidcup (not verified) on 23 Nov 2011 #permalink

These hilarious mails should be made into a 2012 calendar, the type you rip off a page a day to unveil another inspirational quote.

> Jan 1: "Observations do not show rising temperatures throughout the tropical troposphere unless you accept one single study and approach and discount a wealth of others. This is just downright dangerous. We need to communicate the uncertainty and be honest."

> Jan 2: I thought Iâd play around with some randomly generated time-series and see if I could âreconstructâ northern hemisphere temperatures. [...] The reconstructions clearly show a âhockey-stickâ trend. I guess this is precisely the phenomenon that Macintyre has been going on about.

> Jan 3: I also think the science is being manipulated to put a political spin on it which for all our sakes might not be too clever in the long run.

> Jan 4: Iâm sure you agreeâthe Mann/Jones GRL paper was truly pathetic and should never have been published. I donât want to be associated with that 2000 year âreconstructionâ.

Actually, maybe one year won't be enough....

By Rick Bradford (not verified) on 23 Nov 2011 #permalink

Care to fill in the elipsis, Dick?

Obviously the claims made by Deltoid here are untrue but, with its traditional opposition to any scientific princioples, those running it will censor anybody who wants the facts discussed.

> Bill, downloading all my e-mails for you to read/wade through would constitute a 'cruel and unusual punishment'.

So you support cruel and unusual punishment against climate scientists, but not yourself..?

Well, the hypocrisy fits you.

> They are real, and they show awful behaviour by major players in the climate science.

Yup, it shows awful behaviour of the denialists who sat on this to make the most PR impact. If they'd released anything two years ago, there would be actual knowledge of the emails. At the moment all you have is rumour and what you'd like to hear.

> However, a major cause of the debt is the climate madness.

Really? How much has been spent to combat AGW and how much has been spent buying back the banks insane gambling debts?

Yes, well, David, it would be too much to hope that you were actually doing anything useful in the world, so there's no point in demanding you upload your work emails, is there?

And, frankly - bullshit! You'd no more want a bunch of hostile carping nitwits going through your work email cache - has such a thing ever existed, I wonder? - on the excuse that they're integral to your 'science' than any of the rest of us would.

Have you actually read any of this stuff you're gleefully cutting-and-pasting? You know, with your brain (or local equivalent)actually engaged? I can only agree with Gavin Schmidt -

Indeed, even the out-of-context quotes arenât that exciting, and are even less so in-context.

Actually, maybe one year won't be enough....

Actually 10,000 years wouldn't be enough ... to show the loons that without context it's all meaningless, and that said loons will impart whatever spurious meanings their pointy little heads can devise.

It's like they've already conveniently forgotten their B.E.S.T. effort already shot their foot into a bleeding stump, because at heart they'd rather get out their tinfoil hats and play conspiracies.

In fact, the hard-of-thinking would do well to read Gavin Schmidt's responses to the various cut-and-paste 'Gotcha!'s as they appear in the comments below his post.

Isn't one thing for using Microsoft's Sharepoint system and DRM that you can have data and emails automatically deleted based on business claims for data retention?

I guess clearing out old emails is OK if you're a private company, but proof of evil if you're a climate scientist...

>Suffice to say that I would have absolutely no embarrassment if all my e-mails were published.

So publish them.

By Bernard J. (not verified) on 23 Nov 2011 #permalink

Why worry about Duffman's private emails when we can just examine his public pronouncements on his own blog? Taken from a few recent threads:

>this site [Duff and Nonsense] is an idiot's guide written by an idiot.

Well, quite

> Nearly 2 years ago someone, identity unknown, hacked into the e-mails at East Anglia University and released them...sundry enquiries ... found absolutely nothing wrong.

Duffman agrees that the original acquisition of the emails was criminal and that Climategate I was a beat up.

>The 'Hoover Dam' gives way!

Let's apply Climategatelogic and assume that the Duffster is incapable of facetious or tongue in cheek remarks. What a ridiculous and dangerous claim, just alarmist nonsense!

Do you stand by those comments, David? Yes or no?

That was easy. I only read three threads there...and I'm saving the best examples of his ignorance and surprising homophobia for Duffgate II.

I'm sure there's no shortage of suitable material for quotemining that Duffman has posted right here, if anyone could be arsed trawling through it.

Well, I suppose half a loaf is better than none, but would you want to build a scientific hypothesis on it?

"[Email 0071 from Michael Mann] pointed out to him that we certainly donât know the GLOBAL mean temperature anomaly very well, and nobody has ever claimed we do (this is the question he asked everyone). There is very little information at all in the Southern Hemisphere on which to base any conclusion.

So I told him that of course the answer to that question is *no* and it would be surprising if anyone answered otherwise. But, as I proceeded to point out, thatâs the wrong question. I pointed out that a far more sensible question is, âdo we know the relative temperature anomaly for the NORTHERN HEMISPHERE to within that accuracy, and that we almost certainly do know that.

And even the foundations of the half he claims he does know is built on sand, as "Mc&Mc" have pointed out.

... and true to form, Duff drops some more nuggets as a cat would drop a ripped up starling at our feet to be admired.

Duffer, does the word 'context' have any meaning for you?

Do you understand what the term 'discussion' means?

Why do you have that stupid 'gotcha' look on your face when you don't know the answer to the first two questions, and are plonking those mined quotes there as if they were the last word on the subject?

Can you see how moronic that game is?

Are you pleased at yourself to be that moron?

Davey Duff,

Can you explain why the people who stole the emails haven't come forward and identified themselves?

After all they are 'heroes' aren't they, identifying a worldwide scam, deception by nefarious SCIENTISTS and all that? So shurely they should be lauded for their efforts and they can show us all the emails, each one complete so we can grasp its context and institute criminal proceedings.......

I notice the Climategate hacker uses the alias FOIA. I have to wonder what motivates FOIA to do this sort of crap. I think it would be time well spent to try and figure out what really motivates him/her/it. Let's face it, we know that most of the professional climate deniers are lying thrrough their teeth and I bet that FOIA is a professional.

By Berbalang (not verified) on 23 Nov 2011 #permalink

I can't help noticing that over time the emphasis here seems to have shifted from doubts concerning the authenticity of the e-mails, through trying to explain, er, 'the context' and is now centred on the rascal who nicked them.

I can only say that in much the same way that I admire (from a distance upwind) the efforts of those who keep my sewers clear, I have no interest in who exactly they are. It is sufficient that they deal with any blockages, often caused by nefarious people attempting to hide things in places where they think no-one will be looking!

Now, can you all help with a question? What exactly, in your expert opinions, is "the cause"? I bring it up because it is obviously of some importance to Mr. Mann who used the expression on three different occasions. So what is it? What is its aim or aims? It can't be scientific because science doesn't have 'aims'. What are its tenets? If, as the expression implies, it is a sort of political/social/religious movement, what does one have to do to join?

Hey Duff, from the same email you mined (0071):

"So, in short, while the issues you mention are real (and have been emphasized by those actually working in this area for decades, as well as by us in all of our key publications), the primary conclusions (i.e. that late 20th century warmth is robust in at least a millennial context) appears robust, and is common to reconstructions whether
or not they use tree-rings to reconstruct the low-frequency variability."

"As noted above, I want to get the science right"

I wonder why you missed that.

By Robert Murphy (not verified) on 23 Nov 2011 #permalink

exactly, in your expert opinions, is "the
cause"

The communication of science to the public whilst facing down a stream of denier bilge.

In Mann's own words:

Climate scientists have an important role to play in informing the public discourse on human-caused climate change. Our scientific expertise provides us a unique, informed perspective, and despite recent high profile attacks against climate science, the public still affords climate scientists the greatest trust to deliver an honest, unbiased assessment of the potential threats posed by climate changes. Yet, as with all areas of science where powerful special interests perceive themselves as threatened by the findings of science, scientists enter the public fray at our peril.

Our efforts to communicate the science are opposed by a well-funded, highly organized disinformation effort that aims to confuse the public about the nature of our scientific understanding. In recent years, the disinformation campaign has demonstrated a willingness to attack individual, climate scientists as a means of achieving a broader end: discrediting climate science itself. These attacks are rarely fought in legitimate scientific circles such as the peer-reviewed scientific literature or other scholarly venues, but rather through rhetorical efforts delivered by nonscientists, using ideologically aligned media outlets, special interest groups, and politicians.

Scientists are massively out-funded and outmanned in this battle, and will lose if leading scientific institutions and organizations remain on the sidelines. I will discuss this dilemma, drawing upon my own experiences in the public arena of climate change.

[CLIMATE SCIENTISTS IN THE PUBLIC ARENA: WHO'S GOT OUR BACKS?](http://gsa.confex.com/gsa/2011AM/finalprogram/abstract_195510.htm)

By lord_sidcup (not verified) on 23 Nov 2011 #permalink

M' Lord, I thank you for attempting via the words of your very own 'Dear Leader' to answer my question but, alas, I can only award you 'E' for effort! To take but a few instances.

Trenberth and Jones, far from attempting to communicate science, did their level best (and succeeded) in keeping a peer-reviewed paper by Pielke Jnr out of the IPCC report:
http://rogerpielkejr.blogspot.com/2011/11/foia2011-on-shameful-paper.ht…

Here is the Jones-man in 2009 bemoaning, not praising, the new means of communication, the internet:
Issue here is blogsites have allowed these climate change deniers to find one another around the world.

People talking to each other - shockin, shockin', I tell you! http://junkscience.com/2011/11/22/climategate-2-0-jones-laments-blogsit…

Then there is your 'Dear Leader' himself in 2009, demonstrating how keen he is for open discussion:

Meanwhile, I suspect you've both seen the latest attack against his Yamal work by McIntyre.
Gavin and I (having consulted also w/ Malcolm) are wondering what to make of this, and what sort of response---if any---is necessary and appropriate. So far, we've simply deleted all of the attempts by McIntyre and his minions to draw attention to this at RealClimate.

Did you relish that last sentence?
http://hockeyschtick.blogspot.com/2011/11/mann-admits-deleting-all-crit…

And talking of "well funded highly organised disinformation", they don't come much more well-funded than the US Federal Dept. of Energy. Here is the ineffable Jones the blunderer - again:

Any work we have done in the past is done on the back of the research grants we get â and has to be well hidden. Iâve discussed this with the main funder (US Dept of Energy) in the past and they are happy about not releasing the original station data.

Well hidden funding?! Good grief, if I was of a suspicious nature I would smell a conspiracy here!
http://junkscience.com/2011/11/22/climategate-2-0-department-of-energy-…

I could go on ... and on ... but, m'Lord, I think if you asked your butler to click a few times you will see and read as much as you care to.

> in keeping a peer-reviewed paper by Pielke Jnr out of the IPCC report

Yes. This is called "Quality control".

Of course, the mom of the kid whose voice scares vultures from the feast will always complain when their little angel isn't allowed on X Factor.

But I guess that you disagree with A Watts about GIGO, and would prefer to have garbage IN the IPCC, right?

Duff, allow me to quote from the [references of that report](http://ipcc.ch/publications_and_data/ar4/wg1/en/ch9s9-references.html)

>Pielke, R.A. Jr., et al., 2005: Hurricanes and global warming. Bull. Am. Meteorol. Soc., 86, 1571â1575.

Look! It's the paper that you claimed was kept out!

I'm interested in seeing how you try to wriggle out of this one.

By Tim Lambert (not verified) on 23 Nov 2011 #permalink

Lambert (as we are being unusally formal here!), it is not for me to wriggle. Trenberth admits to Andy Revkin that he kept it out:

Andy

I am just back from travel and I have not seen any of the new batch of emails yet. Whatever is there is highly selective.

The full story wrt the hurricanes is given on this web page and all the related links:

http://www.cgd.ucar.edu/cas/Trenberth/landsea.affair/

The paper by Pielke et al was not pertinent to the material in Chapter 3 and neither it nor the Anthes et al paper were included. It did not deal with physical science topics included in chapter 3 and was countered by Anthes et al. There is a huge trail of emails between the Anthes et al authors and the editors of BAMS related to all this and the difficulties we had even getting a comment published.

Far more shameful is the fact that of the 5 papers listed at the bottom of the page given above, not one was included in SREX!
SREX is a sham.

Kevin

I have no idea what SREX is but it sounds rather exciting!

As for Pielke's paper it was concerned with hurricans and global warming and was peer-reviewed and published, andhe says this today:

That paper, despite being peer-reviewed and standing the test of time (as we now know), was ignored by the relevant part of the IPCC 2007 that dealt with extreme events. Thanks to the newly released emails from UEA (hacked, stolen, donated, or whatever) we can say with certainty why that paper was excluded from the IPCC 2007 report Chapter 3 which discussed hurricanes and climate change. Those various reviews associated with the release of the UEA emails that concluded that no papers were purposely kept out of the IPCC may want to revisit that particular conclusion.

Indeed they may! Would that include you, Lambert, old chap?

> it is not for me to wriggle. Trenberth admits to Andy Revkin that he kept it out

Really?

So why is it in?

> The paper by Pielke et al was not pertinent to the material in Chapter 3

So you'd be complaining if they let "Winnie the Pooh" in to Chapter 3 in the 5AR? This would be some evidence of corruption in climate science?

Wow, please read the penultimate paragraph of my comment which is a quote from Pielke and do pay attention or you will have to be given a hundred lines!

So, let me get this right...

RP Jr. is complaining that his paper didn't get cited in the chapter that he wanted it in? Is that what this is about?

By Rattus Norvegicus (not verified) on 23 Nov 2011 #permalink

Duff, how can you confuse cleaning the sewers with throwing a big stinky one into the debate and the deceptive tactics of FOIA certainly do stink! Let's face it, we are all down wind of it and FOIA is covered in it!
For the record, I could understand FOIA hiding his/her/its identity to protect themselves if they were distributing true evidence of fraud. But the fact that he/she/it is deliberately trying to deceive people into believing a falsehood makes him/her/it open game.
As to what FOIA is up to, I have some possibilities. The top one is that the periodic release of emails is part of the creation of a narrative to fool the public. FOIA has a story arc already planned out with "shocking new discoveries" to be announced when necessary to keep the bloated carcass of Climategate ambuling about.

By Berbalang (not verified) on 23 Nov 2011 #permalink

Well hidden funding?! Good grief, if I was of a suspicious nature I would smell a conspiracy

You are a chump David. They are talking about the unadjusted station data and the fact that they are not funded to provide a clerical service for the likes of McIntyre. Why don't you spend some time, as I just have, looking for the full email rather the snippets deliberately edited to put the scientists in a bad light.

By lord_sidcup (not verified) on 23 Nov 2011 #permalink

Tag teaming the trollDuff would be a more efficient waste of time for us...

Have you looked at the full email yet DD? Here's a nice snippet for you:

From looking at Climate Audit every few days, these people are not doing what I would call academic research. Also from looking they will not stop with the data, but will continue to ask for the original unadjusted data (which we don't have) and then move onto the software used to produce the gridded datasets (the ones we do release). CRU is considered by the climate community as a data centre, but we don't have any resources to undertake this work.

By lord_sidcup (not verified) on 23 Nov 2011 #permalink

Tag teaming the trollDuff would be a more efficient waste of time for us...

Giving him his own thread would allow the rest of us to more efficiently ignore him...

# 29, David Duff, November 23, 11:13 AM

âI can only say that in much the same way that I admire (from a distance upwind) the efforts of those who keep my sewers clear, I have no interest in who exactly they are. It is sufficient that they deal with any blockages, often caused by nefarious people attempting to hide things in places where they think no-one will be looking!â

Your observation reminds me of a question Iâve long had about a part of the often quoted maxim, âNever wrestle with a pig ...â Do you really enjoy it?

By WhiteBeard (not verified) on 23 Nov 2011 #permalink

Firefox+Greasemonkey+KILLFILE works here.

By John Mashey (not verified) on 23 Nov 2011 #permalink

Mark me down for a Duff thread!

However, he is doing the community the dual service of highlighting just how little there really is in this material, and the glaring intellectual and ethical failures of the mentality that seeks to exploit it.

Has anyone trawled this material with the opposite focus, do we know? Given the inherent conservatism of IPCC projections surely there must be material about concerns of understating the various cases?

Incidentally, I have had the experience of a snippet of my workplace correspondence turning up in court proceedings.

Consequently I find the gloating over this vile behaviour - culling out a small chunk from a purely internal dialogue that was a normal component of (often 'robust') inter-departmental back-and-forth and conveniently 'repurposing' it - particularly galling.

For anyone reading this with a still-functioning brain I ask again that you consider the basic and obvious ethical question in this situation; how would you fare if someone who was seeking solely to discredit you got hold of your internal email correspondence?

And, further, how could you have the forthright internal dialogue necessary to arrive at a public position if you really had to fear that every private utterance along the way could be selectively mined by such people?

Ironically this tranche actually shows this process working - the 'private' obverse to the necessarily public Peer Review process!

And those in the thrall of The Stupid are actually attempting to cripple it...

So if these communications are so important and reavealing, why wait 2 years to release them?

Well the deniers' hopes for BEST fell flat, Watts has crap all over his face, UHI issues are no issue at all, station drop-out is a non-starter and claims that warming has stopped or paused or whatever are shown to be false. If you add to that list that the Climate Auditor himself has plumbed new depths in muck-raking what's a (dis)honest Koch-sucking denier to do?

Answer: release another batch of deliberately selected out-of-context emails from the 200 000+ hacked in 2009 just before another climate conference (Durban). Cynical, manipulative and - regrettably - wholly predictable. And just as predictable is the spectacle of Duff, Bradford and their ilk with their snouts in the sewer pipe greedily sucking up as much shit as they can.

Paint me underwhelemed.

Well done, chaps, upper lips as stiff as can be, not a tremor to be seen. I must leave you to comfort each other in you rhour of need because it's my cocoa time and then I've got 2,348 e-mails to go through. It's a shitty job but someone has to do it - all for science, you know! Might see you in the morning - or is it the evening? - dammit why can't the Aussies move somewhere sensible?!

I note you're steadfastly refusing to comment on the remaining context of the emails mentioned above, David.

Any particular reason why? Context not of any interest perhaps?

As The Oz has now (thankfully) disappeared behind their paywall, I thought some excerpts of their approach to this story may be helpful (mostly in demonstrating the blindness with which they leap on any denialist claptrap).

"BRITISH and Australian scientists in 2003 discussed making the Great Barrier Reef a "global icon" for public concern over climate change -- in part to help the employment prospects of one British researcher.

...

In one email, Nick Brooks from Britain's UEA tells several members of his department and of the CSIRO that the plan to make the Great Barrier Reef a global icon would "do a lot to raise awareness of threats to the reef from climate change (depending on the outcome of the research!) and of the climate-change issue generally.

"If this is viable it could be another means of keeping me employed if someone wants to act as PI [lead investigator] and develop it with me, or could be turned into a PhD project, or both -- there is potentially a lot of work here," he writes.

The CSIRO's Simon Torok, a recipient of that email who replied that he liked the "social angle", confirmed to The Australian yesterday that the email "looked right" but said the project never went ahead

In another 2007 email, David Jones from the BOM tells the Climate Research Unit's Phil Jones that Australian climate sceptics are "scientifically incompetent" and easy to "snow" with data. He goes on to say that "climate change here is now running so rampant that we don't need meteorological data to see it", citing the drought -- now broken -- in the Murray Darling Basin.

In a 2004 email Ricardo Villalba, a researcher involved in preparing material for the UN's Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, writes to a number of other researchers: "The trick may be to decide on the main message and use that to guide what's included and what's left out."

A series of inquiries that followed the Climategate affair handed down some sharp criticisms -- such as for failing to adequately respond to FOI requests -- but did not find evidence of scientific malpractice."

The ellipsis just covers some descriptive stuff re: number of e-mails, Durban conference etc. Context, of course, have they none.

There's also a great big article on John Howard writing the forward to McKitrick's report on the IPCC but I figure people may shortly be eating lunch.

Denial is a state of mind and mental attitude. Without adjusted knowledge and hard facts the out of context accusations will continue concerning these emails.

Another poster sums this up quite well.

1. Bad station ground temperature sites. Turns out this was wrong.

2. Drop outs in reporting stations. Turns out this was wrong.

3. The new team to estimate temperature (the Berkeley team) which is FUNDED by denial/skeptics. This new research into the real data will prove that other estimates are fraudulent. "We'll that heâll accept whatever their results are, even if it contradicts us." It contradicts him. Refusal globally by the denial mental state of adherents refuse to accept the result. Worldwide web multiple tirades to discredit this objective new effort.

4. Global warming is caused by UHI. Turns out they were wrong.

5. Global warming has âpausedâ or âslowed downâ or isnât even happening. Careful examination of these data claims proves this assertion is wrong.

Scoundrels resort to stealing a bunch of private emails and take them out of context so they can launch a campaign of character assassination. Multiple investigations follow, the science of global warming is vindicated. Again.

The fake skeptics have got nothing. Zero. Zip. Squat. With all the real science against them, apparently their only recourse is to look for âsloppy secondsâ in the stolen emails in a lame attempt to revive their smear campaign. It tells us all we need to know about the so-called âskeptics.â They are pathetic.

Iâm tempted to laugh â but the health, safety, even survival of the next generation is at stake. Theyâll know who it was who sealed their fate.

By Ross Brisbane (not verified) on 23 Nov 2011 #permalink

they show awful behaviour by major players in the climate science

Not nearly as awful as your lies.

Here's something truly awful: The author of one of Linux's filesystems murdered his wife. What does that say about his filesystem? (Hint.)

Ah, people reading his emails are psycos. Nothing like attacking the messenger, rather than the message.

Hypocritical much? The message is the AGW is real.

Ha ha.. the old 'out of context' defense. Mighta worked last time - won't this time Timbo. The game is well and truly up ! :-)

By Billy Bob Hall (not verified) on 23 Nov 2011 #permalink

Over two hundred thousand emails eh?

Well, it certainly wasn't an internal UEA 'whistleblower' who released the stolen material. If it were, the very short list of people who have legitimate access to so much material would have been rapidly scrutinised and assessed to determine the culprit.

So, the logical conclusion is that it is a vested interest hack.

The next conclusion is that the releases are being timed in an attempt to cause maximum discredit to the science. Given the complete lack of substance to the claims of the denialati, this smear campaign is the real story here, and the enthusiasm with which it is being picked up by sounding boards such as the Watts and the Bolts of the world is a seriously ignored Chapter 2 of the real scandal.

As to the trolls who are banging their knuckles on the ground, notice that they still can't actually articulate exactly where it is that the science is wrong?

Frankly, I reckon that we should have a monthly thread to which to exile the worst, and at the expiry of the month consign them to banned oblivion. Or, better still, give them a limited number of further posts, so that they choose the timing and the manner of their own termination.

By Bernard J. (not verified) on 23 Nov 2011 #permalink

And so far with these 'climategate' e-mails, I have yet to read any of a truly personal nature.

Nor have you read any of the e-mails which reveal data that negate the findings that the Earth warms, nor have you read any that negate the findings of new fewer than five official investigations that the scientists who find global warming are accurate and honest in their work.

Your e-mails will reveal the same lack of information supporting a position of denial of warming or the need to do something.

When will you upload them for us?

These are the mindsets found in Bolt, Jo Nova and Watts who always hide behind their own stories or Web inspired links. They never show any any credible science of their own or ever have a amateur ability in handling information in a balanced way.

These will go down in history as troublemakers, polarisers, stirrers and mud-throwers. These are troubled individuals incapable of original thought. The same diseased journalistic plague infecting the UK and Cable News in the USA. It's propaganda at its worst.

By Ross Brisbane (not verified) on 23 Nov 2011 #permalink

So, Duffer...

I went and read Pielke's little whine and the suspect emails. Yes they didn't like the paper, but the main reason they didn't include it seems to be that it wasn't germane to the section of chapter 3 under consideration. So I then went on to read the section of chapter 3 and the paper itself to see if this held up.

Lo and behold, upon doing this, I found that indeed this paper really was not germane. It was a review paper which cited much of the literature (which constituted original research) already cited in the section. Indeed, expect for the conclusions section of the paper it did not strike me as shameful, although I am not as familiar with the literature on this as I should be. The conclusions section of the paper is reasonably characterized by Trenberth.

I suggest that you read the paper, then read the section. Then you should explain to us why a paper with no new observations and no new hypothesis should be cited in this section, especially when much of the literature underlying Pielke, et. al. is already cited.

Then consider that RP Jr.'s paper was cited in WG1 Ch. 9 and in WGII. If that is gatekeeping, it is about as secure a gate as the US border with Mexico.

By Rattus Norvegicus (not verified) on 23 Nov 2011 #permalink

ROBYN " Holy phuck Batman this must be the absolute, actual, authentic, authoritative, certain, conclusive, definite, definitive, errorless, exact, factual, faultless,flawless, genuine, infallible, irrefutable, official, perfect, right, straight, strict, true, truthful, undeniable, undisputed, unimpeachable, unquestionable, unrefuted, valid, veracious FINAL nail in the coffin of climate change"

BATMAN Yawn

By john byatt (not verified) on 23 Nov 2011 #permalink

Please consign Duffer to the duffers' bin!

When some idjit posts these excerpts and demands you provide context, ask for a link to the full email/document and their take on what it means.

They've got it around the wrong way. It shouldn't be our job to do their reading and thinking for them. Don't let them waste your time.

@61 : especially when :
- they could have save us and themselves time and power comsuption by simply linking to their 2009 rants, since they are EXACTLY the same
- their claims are often doused by simply reading the mail. The context in many cases isn't even necessary, the only knowledge you must have is litteracy. I think for example about the outrage over "they said in a mail that they want to write for IPCC by holding to a mantra and spin data around it !!§§§§!!!" when it appears one or two lines above that ... they are trying to write a half-page summary. Yeaaaaaaaah.

In France, even MSM who lapped on the 2009 faux scandal do not even bother. That speaks volumes about this new "scandal".

Rick Bradford -- "These hilarious mails should be made into a 2012 calendar, the type you rip off a page a day to unveil another inspirational quote."

Whoops, you missed a word. Let me correct that for you.

"These hilarious mails should be made into a 2012 calendar, the type you rip off a page a day to unveil another inspirational quote mine."

There, much more accurate.

> please read the penultimate paragraph of my comment

Why?

You won't read the emails in context and you won't explain why this refusal of an irrelevant paper should be put in anyway.

It's because without Garbage In, you can't claim garbage out.

And you so dearly want it to be garbage out in AGW.

Morning/evening all! Sleep well did you? Excellent, so, just to keep you up to date, here is a definition of that hitherto mysterious entity known as 'the consensus':

#1593 is a gem. In it Mike and Keith express several concerns. And Mike tells us who the consensus is:

âMy guess is that anything that the 4 of us [Mike, Keith, Tim and Phil] all can find consensus on, is probably a good reflection of what the consensus is within the leaders in this field, â¦â

This is all to be discussed over âbeersâ in Switzerland .

There you have it, folks, the consensus is whatever Mike, Keith, Tim and Phil tell you!

[from comment by Jimmy Haigh at CA:
http://climateaudit.org/2011/11/23/private-expressions-of-uncertainty/

> all can find consensus on, is probably a good reflection of what the consensus is within the leaders in this field

Yes. And?

When your city council of four members decide on doing something, there are only four people deciding the consensus.

This doesn't make the consensus of everything only those four people.

You're REALLY desperate to find something, aren't you. Pity you're so pathetic at doing so.

I guess it took you overnight to get told to say that, huh?

[David Duff](http://scienceblogs.com/deltoid/2011/11/stolen_cru_emails_the_rejects.p…).

Your post simply demonstrates how completely clueless you (and any and all other people who employ the same tactic) are about the statistical concept of representative sampling, and about how the comment you quote is a simple reference to exactly this concept.

If you are so ignorant that you can't successfully wrestle with even this simple notion, it is no surprise that any and all actual statistical procedures (and certainly any that relate to physics and/or to climatology) fly completely over your head.

Keep up the commentary though. It's the best evidence anyone could put forward to prove your profound inadequacies in commenting on any matter related to human-caused climate change.

By Bernard J. (not verified) on 24 Nov 2011 #permalink

@65 Consensus. You keep using that word. I don't think it means what you think it means.

"I can only say that in much the same way that I admire (from a distance upwind) the efforts of those who keep my sewers clear, I have no interest in who exactly they are."

INT. AIRPORT CHECK-IN LOUNGE

DAVID DUFF is waiting in line at the check-in desk. A STRANGER approaches him.

STRANGER
Hello Sir, could you possibly carry this package for me please? My friend will collect it at your destination.

DAVID DUFF
Oh certainly Sir, I would be glad to!

Duffer, there are good reasons why easily manipulated thickos are excluded from the decision making process.

Thanks for demonstrating them in abundance in your recent posts.

#58

"I suggest that you read the paper, then read the section. Then you should explain to us why a paper with no new observations and no new hypothesis should be cited in this section, especially when much of the literature underlying Pielke, et. al. is already cited."

A ha ha haha ha haha ha

I reckon everyone should leave Duff alone until he's done this - you may even hear his brain cogs creaking in Oz.

Watts is [encouraging people to crack the remaining available encrypted material stolen from CRU](http://backupurl.com/2i8uml).

Is this legal?

By Bernard J. (not verified) on 24 Nov 2011 #permalink

It's copyrighted, and in the USA the DMCA maintains that this is definitely illegal.

The EUCD applied as enabling legislation in EU countries vary.

About all you're allowed by law (but denied in practice) to break encryption is for interoperability. Like I say, however, you're not allowed to break encryption to allow you to play movies on your Linux machine, for example.

> What's happening?

A troll is trolling.

We remain unsurprised.

PS have you EVER had a thought of your own, Olaf?

Thanksgiving morning, we ponder what mix of seeds for the bird feeders for the rest of the winter. It's complicated. The Roger Tory Peterson guides state clearly which birds are supposed to winter in Dallas, but the mix we see at the bird feeders differs. Robins and hawks used to migrate through; in the past 20 years we've got nesting robins and year-round hawks. Buntings? Well, don't they migrate? A half dozen other species wander through -- weeks after they should have pushed off for their snowbird haunts.

The compost heap and trash pick up pile are heaped with the skeletons of perennials that failed to survive either the heavy snows of February or the record heat and drought of the past summer -- what to replace them with? The neighbor down the street has lined his walk with banana trees, which do fabulously well a thousand miles farther north than they should.

Texas livestock newspapers fill with sad news. Cattle operations several decades old, or centuries old in some cases, have sold off all the livestock and folded. "The weather" no longer supports an industry that has been a staple of this area for 493 years. Groesbeck, Texas, will run out of water in December. Out completely. To prevent this, decades ago the city built reservoirs to store water for the dry times. It's too dry for even such preparations.

At least we don't have the problems of Churchill, Canada. There the polar bears wait for ice to form, weeks after it should have already formed. The bears can't feed their cubs without pack ice to hunt from. Dead cubs show up here and there, starved to death. Dead adults show up -- starved to death.

Effects of global warming plague the entire planet. Botanists, zoologists and agronomists chronicled the changes starting way back in the 1950s. The search for a larger cause that local weather conditions came when national and international conventions (formal and informal) realized these effects cover not just local areas, but major biogeographical regions, continents, seas and oceans. After more than 60 years, most scientists narrow down the causes of the warming that caused the changes, to human actions.

Then along comes Duff to complain the scientists don't understand statistics, or some fool complaint. It's not the scientists Duff needs to convince. There are 2 million bovines in Nebraska, California, Colorado and Kansas newly transplanted from Texas, Duff needs to convince. There are a few thousand polar bears on the shores of Hudson Bay Duff needs to convince. There are a few million migratory birds across six continents. There are the corn plants, the wheat seeds, the fruit trees, and flowers. Duff, they need you to teach them statistics so they will realize that they are wrong.

Either that, or Duff has made an error in his calculations somewhere.

In the temples of conservative politics and rape and scrape business, Jon Huntsman is told to recant or retire. Even without making the decision he mutters, not quite under his breath, "Still, the Earth warms." The popes and bishops of those temples won't have descendants to recant their error in 400 years. There won't be anyone to find Olaf's forwarding of Duff's e-mails.

I have no idea what SREX is . . .

That would have been a good place to pause for information, before forming a hardened decision in error, and booking the talk shows to blab about it.

What is SREX? Why would anyone want to keep a paper "out?" What would be the effect of such an action? Was that what happened? (Well, no, according to the references.)

Santayana's Ghost nervously watches the "debate." We know the story of Canute, how he showed his advisors that he was not omnipotent. What is unrecorded is how those advisors went on to tell Napoleon what a great idea it would be to invade Russia, to tell King George III that the Americans just needed a little show of force to get with the taxing program, to convince Andrew Mellon that "recovery is just around the corner" and people could live on their savings until it happened . . . and to tell climate skeptics that we shouldn't work to save the planet until disaster is assured, so we don't "waste" any motion.

Mr. Darrel, congratulations! A marvelously fluent and literate pair of comments which put us all to shame, particularly the 'grunt 'n' snuffle' brigade who deposit their 'thoughts' on these hallowed columns.

Alas, just at the moment I am busy but I will return and respond to your essays (I don't think that is an unfair designation) in, I hope, equally literate and courteous terms.

Duffy,

>I hope, equally literate and courteous terms

Will you also add truthful and accurate to that......just to surprise us.

particularly the 'grunt 'n' snuffle' brigade who deposit their 'thoughts' on these hallowed columns.

Duffer, be under no illusions that anyone is taken in by your genial old buffer act when you visit here primarily for the purpose of propagating the second and third hand lies and slanders you merrily sprinkle around like batshit in a cave. Nor do you have the character to acknowledge your gross and demeaning errors of judgement when they are pointed out.

As much as you may think you look down on the 'grunt'n' snuffle brigade' as you so charmingly put it, be aware that most with a shred of common decency are looking down on a cheap disinformant from an altitude several miles higher.

I'm calling Climategate 2.0 as DOA.

The only people who care about the disinformationistas' cherrypicking of these squishy little nuggets and their subsequent spattering across the web are, ironically, Warmist activists.

The more general attitude seems to be that it's all 'very 2009', and post-9+ subsequent exonerating inquiries the Hackers and their rapidly-spinning fellow-travellers have established their 'natural' credibility level in the public mind; alongside used-car salesmen and late-night telemarketers.

Those who still care - you know, about little things like 'fact' and 'context' - could do worse than visit the Guardian.

But otherwise it's a dud, gloated over only by those in whom The Stupid is very strong indeed...

As Neven pointed out over at SkS - the supposed concern is for the sufferings of the poor, but they've been sitting on this material for two years.

I don't believe any of these 'libertarian' (US definition) types when they succumb to fits of crocodilian weeping and profess their heartfelt sympathy for the needy. They're always perfectly happy for their beloved market to crush whoever stands in its path, and don't want to pay taxes to support programs that mitigate any of its devastating effects, whether social or environmental (and thereby indirectly social again).

And, um, isn't AGW all a giant Commie conspiracy to re-distribute wealth to the undeserving? Guys, precisely which Hymn sheet are we singing from today?

It's the worst kind of flagrant, foetid hypocrisy, and these people are actually the new barbarians.

[Ed Darrell](http://scienceblogs.com/deltoid/2011/11/stolen_cru_emails_the_rejects.p…).

In my corner there have been, and continue to be, notable changes in climate.

When my children's mum was a girl a few decades ago, and for decades before that, the valley she lived in about 15 minutes away from where I am now was routinely snowed-in for several days each winter. The local kids used to wait with much anticipation for these days, because it meant a few days off school. For at least the last 10 or 15 years though there has been no snow at all most years, and on the one or two occasions when it has snowed, it's been a feeble few centimetres that usually don't last past midmorning.

Some of the orcharists around me have removed whole orchards of old apple varieties, because it was becoming apparent that they were not receiving the chill hours they required for fruit set. They've been replaced by warmer climate varieties, or by different species entirely.

Over the last several years my own pom orchard has had several species flowering in autumn as well as in spring. None of the old-timers I've spoken to have seen it before, but it isn't good news, because the trees never fruit from the blossoms, and they bear very poorly the following year.

The salmon industry here is very concerned about the future of their industry, because summer warming stress is becoming more common.

My scientific colleagues in the area have recently been catching marine species that usually occur hundreds of kilometres closer to the equator. Last week we had a bloom of Noctiluca scintillans of impressive* proportions - this dinoflagellate has really only been heavily blooming in these (previously cool) waters for the last 6 or 7 years, prior to which it was a notable curiosity this far south.

There is much other phenology that has been affected, but it is probably the stuff for a book.

The bottom line - if there's a conspiracy to pull the wool over the tax-paying public's eyes, then the recruitment of the planet's biotic and abiotic indicators of climate change, to assist in The Cause, is quite remarkable...

[* Noctiluca is also impressive under the microscope - and this particular bloom's cells were giants!]

By Bernard J. (not verified) on 24 Nov 2011 #permalink

... purpose of propagating the second and third hand lies and slanders you merrily sprinkle around like batshit in a cave.

Be careful. Bat guano is great fertilizer. It does not deserve to be insulted.

Mr. Darrel, good morning! Or whatever. Let me begin by offering you a friendly warning. It doesn't do here to offer up examples of changes in your local environment during your lifetime. It instantly brings down on your head howls of derision from the fearfully brainy types here that you don't understand the difference between weather and climate. Well, it does if you happen to doubt AGW, that is.

You mention the change in bird habits where you live. I could tell you much the same about birds here. The little critters seem to thrive one minute and decline the next. To suppose that it has something to do with global warming might be an answer. On the other hand, for certain species it might be those monstrous windmills built because of supposed global warming knocking hell out of them! Who knows for sure?

And my strong advice is to steer away from polar bears, er, not just literally - nasty, vicous brutes, they eat baby seals, you know - but metaphorically because, just as that photo of a group of them apparently floating to their deaths on a rapidly shrinking lump of ice turned out to be as phony as a $9-bill, so to the whole business of actually counting the killers is fraught with difficulty as this transcript of Charles Monnett, an alleged 'expert' in polar bear counting, shows. I gather he is now an ex-expert! http://wattsupwiththat.com/2011/07/29/inspector-generals-transcript-of-…

I am sorry for the travails of Texas that you report but surely these extremes are not new in 'middle America'. After all John Steinbeck wrote a rather silly book on the subject back in the '30s when vast areas turned into a dustbowl, and then Hollywood made a very sentimental film of it, too. Just imagine what the rather excitable children here would make of that today! Actually, of course, one of the causes of the dustbowl were the agricultural techniques used by the farmers themselves! And anyway, the whole history of farming, and we have centuries of it here in England, is of periods plenty followed by periods of want. Who'd be a farmer, eh?

There is, I suggest Mr. Darrell, a strange trait in Mankind to seek for Great Answers to the myriad of puzzles which face us. In olden times God was thought to be the answer and all sorts of, er, fanatical people bossed everyone else around to ensure that they obeyed God's will. Nowadays, sundry crackpots come up with so-called 'scientific' theories to explain why, as you Americans put it, "shit happens", just as though such things have never happened before and will not happen again just so long as you ignorant unscientific people do as you are told and don't ask questions!

My advice to you Mr. Darrell is to avoid this particular "mess of pottage" and stick to watching your birds. Nice creatures birds. They don't eat baby seals!

> It instantly brings down on your head howls of derision from the fearfully brainy types here that you don't understand the difference between weather and climate

Odd.

When tampaxZ asked for catastrophes and I gave him weather events, he discarded them as catastrophes MERELY BECAUSE they were weather events.

When AIT says that Katrina was made worse by AGW, you deniers STILL howl it down as a LIE proving EVERYTHING ELSE about AGW must therefore be wrong.

Then again, accuracy and honest was never your strong point, was it Dai.

Jesus Christ. If there's any better definition of delusion than getting your 'facts' from Anthony Watts and your 'philosophy' or historical perspective from Christopher Booker, I'd like to know what it is.

And just to correct another of your oh-so casual smears, Dr. Charles Monnett has not had any charges made against him, despite the smear campaign surrounding the three month plus partisan witch hunt investigation. Not a single one.
Innocent until proven guilty being the tenet of a civilised society, eh what old bean?

Phil Jones wants his cronies on The Team to be in charge of things at the IPCC.

> âGetting people we know and trust [into IPCC] is vital - hence my comment about the tornadoes group.â

Asked about these shenanigans, he replies:

> It means scientists we could trust to write succinct and clear text.

Oh, lordy, is there an aisle I can roll in? Is that the best that Agit-Prop Central can come up with these days?

By Rick Bradford (not verified) on 24 Nov 2011 #permalink

The facts did not come from Anthony Watts, they came via Anthony Watts and they consist of a verbatim transcript of Mr. Monnett's answers whilst being examined by the Inspector General. They are his, er, confused words, not Watts'. And he was suspended back in July but what his status is now I do not know. However, reading his words I would not trust him if he gave me his date of birth!

However this gives me a chance to add words of comfort to Mr. Darrel who was worrried about missing species. According to USA Today/AP in 2009 there was huge amounts of wailing and gnashing of teeth due to the sudden disappearance of wild caribou:

"Across the tundra 1,000 miles to the east, Canada's Beverly herd, numbering more than 200,000 a decade ago, can barely be found today.

Halfway around the world in Siberia, the biggest aggregation of these migratory animals, of the dun-colored herds whose sweep across the Arctic's white canvas is one of nature's matchless wonders, has shrunk by hundreds of thousands in a few short years."
http://www.usatoday.com/weather/climate/globalwarming/2009-10-06-caribo…

Naturally it was blamed on Global Warming! But guess what, today:

"A vast herd of northern caribou that scientists feared had vanished from the face of the Earth has been found, safe and sound -- pretty much where aboriginal elders said it would be all along.

"The Beverly herd has not disappeared," said John Nagy, lead author of a recently published study that has biologists across the North relieved."
http://www.ctv.ca/CTVNews/TopStories/20111120/herd-of-saskatchewan-cari…

Ignorant aboriginals knew better than clever chaps with B.Sc after their names. 'Who'da a thunk it'?!

> The facts did not come from Anthony Watts

What facts?

> they came via Anthony Watts and they consist of a verbatim transcript of Mr. Monnett's answers whilst being examined by the Inspector General

Edited for "content and tone" by Watts the denialist.

Dick: Is that the best that Agit-Prop Central can come up with these days?

Yes, we ask that of you daily. Is that REALLY the best you can manage? I mean, that's even thinner gruel than "hide the decline".

Brasdford said: "Oh, lordy, is there an aisle I can roll in?

.... because after a cheap shot of innuendo, that's about as far as your intellectual equipment will take you. Rolling around in your own filth, which come to think of it, pretty much describes the denier web community.

The thing is Bradford, that's all you've got left after I think it's now nine official investigations, and not one of you has the committment to hard work or the dedication - never mind any scientific reason - that would be required to take things any further.

So sitting round at your computer, scratching your scabby arse and drivelling second hand other people's contrariness is your future, for as far as the eye can see.

What a wonderful prospect for you.

Duff the 'old buffer'.

The facts did not come from Anthony Watts, they came via Anthony Watts and they consist of a verbatim transcript of Mr. Monnett's answers ...And he was suspended back in July but what his status is now I do not know.

Seems to me there is much that you don't know. Perhaps you should start digging deeper into this mess, one not caused by Monnett. A good place for some perspective is at Eli's place of which that is just one example article. Use the blog archive feature in the left side bar to dig out many more articles that have appeared over the course of this year.

But then as you are somebody who thinks the stuff that passes through Anthony Watts comes out good enough to eat (brings a whole new meaning to 'plum duff') you are probably a lost cause, a dyed in the wool mushroom.

@ Chek:

Only 'E' for Effort, I'm afraid. As diatribes go:

"cheap shot of innuendo", "Rolling around in your own filth", "scratching your scabby arse", "drivelling second hand",

is not real quality insult material. You must do better! Also, and I suppose this might be a tad tricky for you, why not try and engage in a conversation. I know, I know, it's a radical suggestion but do give it a try - otherwise you may have to stay behind and read all those e-mails!

> is not real quality insult material.

Since you have not a jot of shame in your lies, there's no need for quality. There's no more worse insult to give you than your mere existence manages to provide for you.

> why not try and engage in a conversation

a) you've never responded to an actual conversation yourself

b) why don't you try first? if only for the novelty value

David Duff sounds awfully like Brent. And his arguments (and methods, including not realising when he is self-refuting, and "data" sources) are essentially the same, it seems.

Ho-hum.

By Lotharsson (not verified) on 25 Nov 2011 #permalink

Duffer,

Its clear that you are out of your depth when it comes to discussing ANY topic that requires even a basic scdientific education. I developed serious indigestion whan I read this utter tripe that you wrote:

*You mention the change in bird habits where you live. I could tell you much the same about birds here. The little critters seem to thrive one minute and decline the next. To suppose that it has something to do with global warming might be an answer. On the other hand, for certain species it might be those monstrous windmills built because of supposed global warming knocking hell out of them! Who knows for sure?*

God, this is so utterly and completely ignorant, that I don't know where to begin dismantling it. There's no science here at all, just scientifically illiterate waffle. Why do you respond to Ed Darrell's posts when you don't have a clue? I have deal with your peurile gibberish in past threads and what do you do? Respond with your comic-level book understanding of ecology here. I am beginning to think that you might even make JonasN and Tim Curtin's vacuous musings look almost - well - rational. If that doesn't tell the readers here something about your histrionics, nothing will.

Let us get some ecophysiological facts straight. First of all, its not just the demographics of birds that are being affected by climate change and other anthopogenic stressors; warming is affecting a very wide range of vertebrate and invertebrate taxa as well as plants. There is little doubt that we are well into the planet's sixth great extinction event, and this on the basis of studies looking at declines in genetic diversity and well as the current status of well-studied species (plants and vertebrates). Between 10 and 40% are threatened with extinction, and the list is growing as humans further simplify natural systems.

There is also little doubt that there are a very wide array of ecological indicators - migratory patterns, latitudinal and elevational distributions, life cycles and phenological processes involving many taxa in a large number of published stuidies - that provide concrete evidence that rapid warming is occurring and that it is happening at unequal rates across the biosphere. Any number of relevant key words in the web of science and you will get literally thousands of hits showing that the empirical evidence of warming on biodiversity is large and growing. Of profund concern is that interactions amongst species in tightly linked food webs with multiple feedbacks are being affected - in many cases negatively - by differential species' reponse to the warming. This means that feedback loops are stressed and the loss of trophic interactions is leading to a decline in the abundance of species up the food chain (for example migratory songbirds whose life cycles are becoming desynchronized with their insect prey). Ecologist daniel Janzen once said that "The ultimate extinction is the extinction of species interactions" and he is completely correct. More recent evidence suggests that aquatic birds are leaving their breeding grounds up to a month later than normal and many are not arriving on their wintering grounds at all, another issue of concern because of the fact that many of these species (such as geese) play an important role in structuring the plant communities due to winter grazing. We know that the loss of trophic cascades can lead to dramatic changes in the structure of the plant community and that this in turn can reverberate up the food chain. Cliame warming in Greenland is also unrevaling food webs involving caribou and their food plants because of shifts in the growth patterns of the plants in ways that are creating suboptimal conditions for reproduction in the caribou. Insec therbivores must track changes in the distribtions of their food plants, and evbidence from the UK shows a rapid decline in the abundance and ranges of oligotrophic Lepidoptera.

Now before Duffer and his band of illiterates wades in with "its normal" nonsense, we have to place these changes against the background of ecosystems across the biosphere that have alread been simplified in a range of other ways by humans over the past 200 years. In effect, thanks to the creation of huge agricultural and urban expanses, we have created physical barriers which make it much more difficult for species to adapt to climate change than would have been the case in the past when ecosystems were more or less interconnected. At the same time, humans have also reduced the abundance of a huge range of species by destroying their natural habitat with a concomitant reduction in genetic diversity that is a pre-requisite for adaptation. The situation is grim.

Duffer's argument about windmills is so scientifically lame that I will not even lower my dignity and respond to such nonsense. As for Steibeck's classic novel, "The Grapes of Wrath", conditions in the 1930s were nothing remotely like they are now in Texas. Not even close! What is occurring there is an ecological and economic disaster that is beyond comprehension. The effects on biota native to the region are incalculable. Finally, I would expect Polar Bear numbers to increase marginally as ice extent decreases TO A POINT: but we are talking about non-linear systems and species that exhibit non-linear dynamics. There is clearly an optimum amount of ice that will support the bears, but once the loss of ice exceedes a critical threshold (that is fast approaching) then their populations will plummet. This is hardly rocket science, except for the deniers who seem to think that the bears will thrive in a ice-free Arctic summer. This is the most absurd and ignorant argument that one can make, but it appears that the deniers want us to wait until the bear populations enter the freefall zone, by which time it will be way too late to do anything.

I have science to do and won't waste any more of my valuable time on Duffer's crap. But trust me readers: his knowledge of the field is gleaned from less than a single brain cell.

By Jeff Harvey (not verified) on 25 Nov 2011 #permalink

Well done, Jeff, exasperated, of course, but sticking to the point, by and large. I'm just a little hurt that you failed to thank me for the good news on the missing mooses, or caribous, or whatever you call those great hairy things that have the temerity to shit all over Canada. They're safe and sound!

As to you first main paragraph, are you telling me that my description of bird species as waxing and waning and then, perhaps, waxing again is not an accurate description of their history? And are you also denying that there is some controversy over the fact that those giant windmills are damaging birds?

Also, let me assure you that we have no disagreement that climate change has an effect on different species of both animal and plant life. That, in fact, is the entire history of this planet - it was ever thus. Also, I did not suggest that the "dustbowl" was the same as the conditions current in Texas, my point was that if it isn't 'one damn thing' it's another! By and large, central areas of big land masses suffer big weather and geological effects. Again, it was ever thus.

Finally, and at this point I must urge you to sit down with a large scotch to hand, let me spell something else out to you. You are quite correct to maintain that human activity has had an effect on living things. Some of it has been deleterious and at this point you can reel off the names of several cuddly animals to weep over but let me tell you bluntly that I, personally, couldn't give a stuff! Even worse, I don't give a stuff about polar bears! What I do see is that through human efforts more and more humans are living longer and longer because they are healthier and healthier. And, this will come as a bit of shock to you, Jeremy, I actually think people are far more important than, say Natterjack Toads, or, some flower that lives in a desert and comes up once every ten years. I cannot stress this too much, people are more important than anything else! (How are you feeling? Have a sip of scotch, it'll help.)

Don't misunderstand, I don't wish other living things to be destroyed, if there are sensible ways to preserve them (which increasingly there are) then by all means do it. But, if it comes down to a straight choice then polar bears don't even get a look in!

Now you may suggest that such wanton behaviour will lead to the destruction of people as well. I would suggest that you are wrong. Because as well as causing harm, people also do good. Just two silly/simple examples, dogs and cats thrive because of Man. New types of crops, some bio-engineered, are now feeding more and more people. I could go on but you take my point.

So, I hope that positive ending has cheered you up, Jeremy, because I do think you are a tad too dismal - no, no, don't thank me!

Duff is still here, and y'all are still wasting time answering him?

Duffer,

I should follow dhogaza's advice, and in time I will, because, if anything, your last post was even more ignorant than the one that preceded it.

I am sure that you don't give a stuff about a huge array of ecological processes covering vastly different scales of space and time... of soil dwelling microbes, other nutrient cycling organisms (the soil is literally teeming with them), nitrogen fixing bacteria, a similar staggering array of above-ground biota: pollinators, seed dispersers, arthropod natural enemies up the food chain and billions of other little things, let alone the bigger organisms (like Polar Bears). Forgetting the functional aspect of biodiversity acting to maintain life support systems for humanity, you cannot even appreciate the aesthetic values of nature, hence you appear to be quite happy to see future human generations grow up in a biologically depauperated word in which magnificent organisms like umbrellabirds, tigers, polar bears, great white sharks, reticulated pythons and seqouia trees are consigned to museums or old photos in book. That's because you are a daft idiot whose understanding of nature and of man's place in it is absolutely and resolutely nil. You are a dim-witted sauropod whose ideas are as extinct as the giant herbivores which peaked in abundance and diversity during the late Jurassic Period.

Well, pal, I have news for you. The only reason humans (well, at least 15% of us) are doing well is because of short-lived technologies that, at the same time, are depleting natural systems at a clearly unsustainable rate. Human beings became the dominant organism at a time that conincided with the planet containing a greater abundance of diversity than at any other time in the planet's history. But the consequence of this technology is that we are eroding the planet's ecological life support systems, pushing them towards a point beyond which they will be unable to sustain humanity, and no amount of human ingenuity or technology is going to be able to counter these effects. Already the planet has a diminished cpacity to support man, as evidenced by a decline in a range of supporting ecosystem services that was described in detail in the Millennium Ecosystem Assessment (2006) and in thousands of studies. Natural and agricultural systems depend on nature's services for their stability and productivity, and we are already seeing that the so-called miracle of the green revolution is turning parts of the world into an ecological disaster.

Then you write this garbage: *Just two silly/simple examples, dogs and cats thrive because of Man. New types of crops, some bio-engineered, are now feeding more and more people. I could go on but you take my point*.

Cats and dogs are domesticated strains of wild types, Canis lupus in Canis familiaris and Felis sylvetris (in all likelihood) in the case of Felis domesticus. If this is what you consider to be a sterling example of 'animals benefitting from mankind', then I would not even pass you from the 5th grade. And I won't get into a length discussion about bioengineered grains, because your statement belies the fact that your understanding of the technology would embarrass a kindergarten student. However, that said, there is no evidence whatsoever that GMOs are reducing hunger (this is standard corporate greenwash in which the technology requires deep PR cover). The truth is that the technology is driven in its entirety by profit. The big GMO firms are spending billions on this technology and they don't want rupees in return: they want hard, cold dollars or Euros, and a lot of them. Again, I could extend this discussion, but your take on the subject is so patently peurile that, as dhogaza said, I would be wasting my time.

Maybe I should forgive JonasN on his thread (although I won't). Your last post makes the guy actually look reasonably intelligent. That is a measure of how abyssmal your last post was. Basal in the extreme.

By Jeff Harvey (not verified) on 25 Nov 2011 #permalink

I cannot stress this too much, people are more important than anything else!

And dhogaza's quite right. There's no communicating let alone conversing with someone who doesn't have any understanding of systems or their dependencies, natural or otherwise, whatsoever. Not an inkling. Zilch, zip, squat, nada and zero.

Accceptable in a seven year old, but for an allegedly grown man? Jesus Christ...

> Accceptable in a seven year old, but for an allegedly grown man?

You're presuming facts not in evidence, chek.

Dai hasn't shown any adult thinking yet.

"The truth is that the technology is driven in its entirety by profit."

Absolutely right, Jeff, spot on, couldn't have put it better myself. And profit means people are buying it and using it and that might just offer you a teensy-weensy clue as how it is that billions more people are now living on this planet - and on the whole living longer!

'dhogaza', my absolutely favourite spelling mistake! I hope you are keeping well, not letting your eco-worries get you down, as those witty fellows sang on that film, "Always look on the bright side of life!"

> offer you a teensy-weensy clue as how it is that billions more people are now living on this planet

Since the vast majority cannot afford most of the technology available, maybe that clue is much teenyer than you pretend.

PS what does your post have to do with anything?

"The truth is that the technology is driven in its entirety by profit."

Quite right, Jeff, spot on, couldn't agree with you more! So if it's profitable that means people are buying it and using it. And that, Jeff, just might explain why there are more billionsof people living on the planet and, moreover, living longer. What would you prefer? That they all die off early?

'dhogaza'! My absolutely favourite spelling mistake. I hope you are well. Not too depressed like Jeff. Just remember that old song those witty fellows once sang, "Always look on the bright side of life!"

Saying it twice doesn't make it any less pointless BS, Dai.

But I guess when you're posting with one hand furiously pumping, it's hard to stop the mouse hand doing the same thing...

I think the Duffbot has got stuck. Someone jog the needle.

#112 & #113 - gently LOL!

Duff's got as much interest in reality as Tim Curtin did, but he's far less entertaining. I reckon it's time he got his own thread.

By Lotharsson (not verified) on 25 Nov 2011 #permalink

Duff shows his ignorance once again:

And profit means people are buying it and using it and that might just offer you a teensy-weensy clue as how it is that billions more people are now living on this planet - and on the whole living longer!

Duff have you any idea about which crops have been genetically modified? The three most popular are corn/maize, soybeans and cotton. Can you tell me how many people actually consume these products as part of their diet? The majority of corn/maize and soybeans go for animal feed not human food. Who eats those animals, not the starving people in the third world but the over fed, over weight consumers in the developed world. In addition, a large portion of these crops goes to producing bio-fuels. As for cotton, GMO cotton is causing major problems in India where farmers are going bankrupt and committing suicide in record numbers because they bought into the lies of Monsanto et al.

You think that GM crops are feeding billions of people? You are so ignorant of the world around you. You must be intolerable to have as a neighbor. Do they know how greedy, ignorant and arrogant you are?

By Ian Forrester (not verified) on 25 Nov 2011 #permalink

Gentlemen, I use the term loosely of course, apologies for 'doubling up' but whatever (non)system runs this site is rubbish and sometimes leaves you believing that your comment has not been published and then suddenly it is!

I notice Duff has no actual answer to the criticisms of his double posting. Just a subject-changing deflection.

I'm sure you're just working on it, right, Duff? Going to surprise and entertain the Deltoid crowd with some amazing references to the economic & scientific literature, eh?

I'm not holding my breath.

And I think the fact that we're reduced to wandering aimlessly in the twilight with the terminally bewildered only confirms that the subject of this post - Climategate 2.0 - lies dead and unlamented.

Only the most extreme outliers - e.g. Bradford - of this world seem to think there's anything there. Duff's basically conceded the point by meandering off into lovingly-crafted rambling accounts of his profound ignorance - he's nurtured it since he was a lad and has been looking for such an attentive audience for it all his life!

Personally I could be doing something more useful and more likely to yield eventual results than attending to this waffle - like teaching the cat to play the piano. Me for a Duffer thread.

So Duff still hasn't read what was suggested in #58 - unsurprising.

Maybe he'd try Thackeray et al (2010) [Global Change Biology](http://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/10.1111/j.1365-2486.2010.02165.x/full) where 25500 measures of phenological change across 700+ species point squarely at average rates of change that have "accelerated in a way that is consistent with observed warming trends" and differential phenological change among trophic levels.

Or perhaps Ims et al (2008) [TREE](http://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S0169534707003552) who report on the 'fading out' of population cycles with "climate forcing as the general underlying cause" (from several lines of evidence).

But I doubt it - much easier to read the lowbrow stuff at Watts I'm sure.

Ian: 115 "major problems in India where farmers are going bankrupt and committing suicide in record numbers"

Gotta cite for that?

As an aside, what's with deniers affecting this sort of "Drawing Room wit" thing? Is it all Monckton's doing?(actually it afflicts quite a few of 'those on the right' on the internet, I've noticed).
It is a great way wave off giving a straight answer to, well, anything it seems.

Chris, a simple Google search will have provided you with a long list of articles on the debt and suicide problem facing farmers in India. Just in case your Google is not working at the moment [here is one](http://www.huffingtonpost.com/vandana-shiva/from-seeds-of-suicide-to_b_…) which is a good broad summary of conditions in India, particularly in the cotton growing regions.

I know what your response will be so I will add the following. There are a number of reasons for these problems. GM cotton is one of the causes but not the only one but it is a significant reason for bankruptcies and suicides.

By Ian Forrester (not verified) on 25 Nov 2011 #permalink

> GM cotton is one of the causes but not the only one but it is a significant reason for bankruptcies and suicides.

if it's not the _only_ problem, it cannot be a problem at all. cf. CO_2 and global warming.

Come on Duff. At least try and sound like you believe the crap you spew. Put some heart into it, son.

Ligne said:

if it's not the only problem, it cannot be a problem at all. cf. CO_2 and global warming.

That does not make any sense at all. It is very seldom that one factor is "the only problem" (that, in fact is one of the problems when academics are brought in to solve something, they wear blinkers and only see one problem).

Other problems in India (and elsewhere) are lower prices for agricultural products due to higher subsidies by western governments, climate problems causing very low yields (not helped by the strains of GM cotton pushed by the agri-companies, higher input costs due to increased prices for chemicals, higher prices for GM seeds and poor yields from GM seeds which were not suitable for the conditions (some were not even active against the pests they were supposed to attack), lack of non GM seeds etc.

So if you examine these problems you will see that GM cotton is a major problem for cotton farmers in India but it is not the only problem.

By Ian Forrester (not verified) on 25 Nov 2011 #permalink

Ian,

I think that ligne was making a joke...

By Rattus Norvegicus (not verified) on 25 Nov 2011 #permalink

Ian #122

To be honest I was hoping for something more rigourous than newspaper articles. Where's the data? (I'll note that suicide rates in UK farmers are also very high at the moment & there's no GM to blame that on).

So here's a challenge for you - find me some actual evidence that the deaths in India are of a similar level to, say the 2002 famine in Zambia (you know the one where the Zambian government were turning away aid from the US due to lobbying from anti-GMO organisations - aid that would have fed dying children).

Here's another challenge, GMO crops have been in production in N. America since the for more than 30 years; can you point to any health effects that have been ascribed to them?

And if you're worried about the profits of corporations then stop to consider that the regulatory process that is currently in place (largely due to the anti-GMO lobby) have precluded anyone except the multi-nationals from bringing any new technologies to market. There are plenty of public-sector projects out there (fish oil from brassicas, drought tolerant wheat, nitrogen fixing cereals, biofortification etc.) but these projects will all ultimately need a 'big-agri' partner to get them through the (>10 year long) regulation process.

Jeff Harvey

I know that you are extremely frustrated with David Duff and his inability to grasp the slightest hint of the edges of a dim twilight view of ecology. But, if it helps, your posts addressed to him are appreciated in other ways. Having studied ecology at an undergraduate level and maintaining a keen lay-person's interest in it, your posts are beautiful summations of extremely complex interactions, pithily and precisely written.

As I firmly belong to the group that can't work out why people still argue about long-proven physical properties relating to climate change (there's a lot of uncertainty around the edges, but the major issues are kind of "Duh!"), I wish that we could only move the discussion on to ecology. Because that's the killer issue and the non-discussed elephant in the room. I also realise that the (Australian, Murdoch) media won't allow such a change in conversation at all. After all, when you start talking about ecology, you start to get really scary and we can't have that.

Sadly, despite all efforts that I can personally make with LandCare, wildlife caring and both minimising energy use and maximising the indigenous nature of my garden, I keep watching the complex ecology I grew up with leach away. I remember what bush curlews sounded like and the beauty of spoonbills on the dam. Now there's only Common Mynas and wood ducks. Native bush is being turned into pretty lawns and cottage gardens. And even if they keep the trees, the spiky bushes are cleared out as ugly and useless and the small birds and ringtail possums disappear into the maws of cats. It is a sadly diminishing world we live in.

i was indeed, sorry.

i thought it was obviously stupid and insane enough that it had to be a joke. it was only a couple of hours later that i remembered that people do actually use that exact argument...

AmandaS @ 128

I totally agree and in turn thank Jeff Harvey for his knowledgeable elucidation.

David Duff - for a monthly donation of as little as £3 (3 UKP) you can support The Widlife Trusts in the UK . You will then start learning about how humans have degraded the very environment that supports them and of measures that are being taken to ameliorate a bad situation. Measures by largely small armies of volunteers.

The Financial Times, Rick Bradford, has little interest in such non profit activities and should not be trusted to provide a valid viewpoint. I am not about to stump up money for ANY Murdoch enterprise so as to read the tripe found there. That the FT has hidden itself behind a pay-wall is in itself an indication of its money grubbing nature.

Actually Lionel, despite the apparent Times imprint, the FT isn't a Murdoch rag, but a Pearson title and the columnist is an NYT editor. The piece in question can be read [here](http://junkscience.com/2011/11/26/climategate-a-catastrophe-for-science…) without registering.

Having said that, small 'c' conservative commentator takes email quotes at face value with no effort whatsoever to place them in their correct context, but rather to speculate how the mythical public will view them, is not news. If anything it's a complete abrogation of the concept of illuminating ignorance, which is what journalisn used to be about.

I don't know what Caldwell's reputation is, but from this example it's classic lazy journalism by press (or in this case stolen email) release. No wonder the Bradfords applaud.

Chris, I am ending this discussion. Firstly, it is off topic for this thread and secondly you have shown time and time again that you are closely involved with GM crops. It is ironic that you complain time and time again about the quality of the cites I make but you refuse to accept that the GM industries have never provided one honest paper on the "safety and economic benefits to farmers and consumers" of their nasty products. You do not find articles about farmers committing suicide in the scientific literature but in the newspapers which respond to local events. If you use Google, as I mentioned earlier, then you will find more "institutional" reports but they are based on the local reports anyway.

http://preview.tinyurl.com/78gt7mn

You will never be convinced but luckily more and more people are seeing the hypocrisy and dishonesty (very similar to the FF industry regarding AGW) shown by the proponents of GM crops.

By Ian Forrester (not verified) on 26 Nov 2011 #permalink

check

Oops! Yes you are correct. Me a culpa - 'twas a senior moment sorry. But my evaluation of the general slant of articles from that out-of-tune organ stands.

Message to Bradford about,

Caldwell merely says that if these scientists want to make their case about CAGW, they have to stop behaving like whining brats with vast egos and overtly political agendas, because nobody likes that kind of behaviour.

CAGW is what you have slipped in - slippery ain't you!

'scientists...with vast egos and overtly political agendas...'

Oh! Please!

The overt political is obvious in your postings, taking your cues from sites such as junkscience which is run by he with one of the longest records for being devious, deceptive and downright dishonest about science that you could ever find, from tobacco through CFCs, acid rain, and then climate change.

See this for some of the spiders in the web including the mark of interest pulled out lower left. There are other marks pulled out around the periphery, marks of well know denier/delayer reputation.

Note that I started with the Russia-Kyoto Web of Intrigue at upper left in the page reached if one clicks through Skip Intro on the home page.

Russia-Kyoto - interesting eh given the route of the CRU hacking malarkey.

Brendan DeMelle at Desmogblog also questions whether Norfolk police have quietly sidelined the UEA hack investigation.

FoI data shows Nrofolk police have spent a mere £80,905 on the investigation, compared to spending £1.75million on posting one "undercover environmental activist".

#133 Ian I know it's OT but, lets face it much more interesting than the non-event these latest emails entail.

But allow me to respond, I encourage others to look at Ian's comment & compare to any other anti-science commentator that appears at Deltoid spreading their disinformation.

First, we have the smearing of character :"you have shown time and time again that you are closely involved with GM crops". In truth I have only peripheral involvment in that I am an agricultural entomologist by trade. Yes, I was involved in one study, that found that the environmentally friendly claims touted for HT crops were overstated (and which led to Monsanto pulling out of the UK market). But I have no professional interest, despite Ian's attempt to paint me as a shill.

Second we have the avoidance of challenges - absolutely no attempt to answer either of the challenges I set up in #127. As with most anti-science proponents, any efforts to get them to put-up or shut-up is ignored (cf. Duff's consistent blind eye to any attempt to get him to read the actual science).

Thirdly we see the reliance on newspaper reporting over any actual, real life data "You do not find articles about farmers committing suicide in the scientific literature" (Really - nothing on suicide rates India? [Really?](http://ukpmc.ac.uk/abstract/MED/17301103)) Again, cf any Duff or Bradford or Brent, Jonas etc. comment.)

Fourthly we see hyperbole and bluster "You will never be convinced but luckily more and more people are seeing the hypocrisy and dishonesty shown by the proponents of GM crops" one wonder how often Ian has used the phrase Frankenstein foods in the last few years.

Why should I care? To me there is one major difference between those who are anti-science on AGW & those who are anti-sceince on GM. The former, through their actions will end up causing deaths in the future as the effects of climate change start to bite. The anti-GM lobby is causing deaths NOW through starvation throughout the world through their anti-scientific evidence-free stance on science they don't like.

Yes there are issues with multi-national profiteering, but I can't be in a camp that would rather see innocent children die in developing countries than fat cats trousering too much money. I was in Zambia during the famine of 2002 (as a volunteer in a national park) and I remain astounded to this day at the pride that the local anti-GM lobby had in the fact that they had rejected aid from the US. People were dying but they had 'won' so they were happy. Nice.

I'll end with some words from Norman Borlaug on biotechnology (Google him - Nobel Peace Prize Winner 1970): "Biotechnology will help these [developing] countries accomplish things that they could never do with conventional plant breeding. The technology is more precise and farming becomes less time consuming. The public needs to be better informed about the importance of biotechnology in food production so it wonât be so critical... There is a big potential for biotech in Africa. For example, Roundup Ready crops. The gene for herbicide tolerance is built into the crops. These kinds of biotech crops promote good farming methods. For example, traditional African farms are plagued with razor-sharp grasses and so the farmers slash and burn. Herbicide-resistant crops can eliminate these grasses... Biotechnology helps farmers produce higher yields on less land. This is a very environmentally favorable benefit. For example, the worldâs grain output in 1950 was 692 million tons. Forty years or so later, the worldâs farmers used about the same amount of acreage but they harvested 1.9 billion tons â a 170% increase! We would have needed an additional 1.8 billion hectares of land, instead of the 600 million used, had the global cereal harvest of 1950 prevailed in 1999 using the same conventional farming methods. If we had continued practicing conventional farming, we would have cut down millions of acres of forest, thereby destroying wildlife habitat, in order to increase cropland to produce enough food for an escalating population. (actionbioscience.org/biotech/borlaug.html)

AmandaS:

I wish that we could only move the discussion on to ecology. Because that's the killer issue and the non-discussed elephant in the room. [...] Sadly, despite all efforts that I can personally make with LandCare, wildlife caring and both minimising energy use and maximising the indigenous nature of my garden, I keep watching the complex ecology I grew up with leach away. [...] even if they keep the trees, the spiky bushes are cleared out as ugly and useless and the small birds and ringtail possums disappear into the maws of cats.

I couldn't agree more. Something subtle but significant has been going on for a few years now, where almost every mention of environmental issues almost instantly gets shifted to climate change (even when environmental issues get any attention or coverage at all). This is not to say that I think climate change does not deserve attention or is not a significant threat, just that the major global slow-motion catastrophe that is the biodiversity crisis seems to have been overshadowed, if not sidelined.

The mismanagement of biodiversity by governments of all levels and persuasions, the (sometimes deliberate) misrepresentation of the crisis in the media (if not the absence of any coverage at all) and the way in which powerful vested interests have been allowed to influence environmental policy and legislation hardly rates a mention any more. Meanwhile we continue to harvest declining fish stocks, "tidy up" remnants of native vegetation, clear tropical rainforests for timber and subsistence farming and cut funding for environmental research and stewardship programmes.

It is indeed a sadly diminished and diminishing world we live in.

Chris S writes:

>*Here's another challenge, GMO crops have been in production in N. America since the for more than 30 years; can you point to any health effects that have been ascribed to them?*

Many of potential health concerns [have been identified](http://eatdrinkbetter.com/2010/01/12/study-links-gm-corn-consumption-to…). Unfortunatley independent [tests are blocked](http://articles.latimes.com/2011/feb/13/opinion/la-oe-guriansherman-see…). Self interest of notorious corporations (see Agent Orange) trumps open scientific investigations and important leads are not blocked.

important leads are not blocked.

Chris s I refuse to discuss anything with you til you apologize for your nasty comments. I am not anti-science I have been a scientist for over 40 years with a BSc in chemistry and a PhD in biochemistry. Your ad hominem comments are not worthy of you. I have never called you a GM industry shill, I only noted that you had been involved with them.

To compare me to an AGW denier shows that you really don't understand what is going on behind the scenes with the GM promoters. They are the ones who are comparable to AGW deniers with their lies, misinformation and lack of transparency.

Now apologize.

I am not anti-science but I am anti the use of science which has never been proven to be safe and where, in fact, there are many papers showing negative effects with the use of GM crops. Any new technology should be judged and approved on its cost benefit analysis and not on whether it is interesting science that lots of scientists have worked on. That is immaterial. If it is not safe and shows absolutely no benefits it should be discarded.

I'm through with you and your nasty comments.

By Ian Forrester (not verified) on 26 Nov 2011 #permalink

Rick, having just trawled the BBC, the Times, the Guardian, and the NYT I can assure you that the impact of CG2.0 hovers barely above zero. Even my local Murdoch rag never bothered.

What is interesting however - and reinforces my theory that outside the most extreme Deniers only active Warmists paid any attention - is that the Guardian has decided to crowdsource the search for the hacker - seems we're not the only people who think the Norfolk Constabulary aren't really trying!

Finding the hacker - and the subsequent trial - now, that will be news!

And you won't like it...

#138 - SteveC - indeed. Global biodiversity is just vanishing in front of us and there are so few people who can be brought to care. We are stripping out the redundancies as fast as we can and expecting the ecosystem to keep providing the same services as it did when it was rich and complex.

And THEN, we impose climate change on top of it. Hemmed in ecosystems without redundancies are meant to deal with world-altering changes over the scale of a century and keep providing all the stuff we need.

One of the reasons I would like to see more on ecology is that it's when plants hit extinction threshold that may finally start to seep in to the general consciousness what we may be heading towards. At what temperature will wheat be ungrowable? Rice? Soy-beans? Insect life (the beneficial kind)? And it is the extremes that can do it. It's all well to say "they'll survive a 4 degree rise, no problem" but if we have an extreme heat year on top of 4 degree rise - what happens then?

It also frustrates me that people won't talk about extremes as they're shouted down by the conservative press. Nonsense about "Tuvalu is fine, the sea's only going up by 3mm a year!". But it's the extremes that will do them in - when the risen sea is combined with a king tide with a cyclone - and, in a blink, the islands become uninhabitable, even if they stick out of the sea for many years afterwards. There seems a blind belief amongst deniers that "sticking out of the sea" is all that's necessary to make an island habitable. The same as there's a belief that "we can import wheat from somewhere".

And still the only messages the scientists can get out are swamped in a orgy of shouting "hide the decline"! The mainstream media is so horribly, frustratingly petty.

jakerman. Greta, now can you point to any studies not carried out by [CRIIGen](http://www.nature.com/news/2011/110131/full/news.2011.61.html?s=news_rss)?

Note, lobbying for stricter controls effectively prices anyone out of the market except the multi-nationals.

Ian, I call it as I see it. "I am not anti-science but I am anti the use of science" Hmm. "which has never been proven to be safe" Appeal to uncertainty - where have I seen that before? "there are many papers showing negative effects with the use of GM crops" but you're not going to provide them, just links to newspaper articles & google searches.

Guys, if you saw (say) Rick Bradford linking to lobbyist websites & papers (eatdrinkbetter? please) or doing what Ian is doing you'd be all over him like a rash. We have an urgent need to feed 7 billion+ people & counting. There are three ways to do this, increase yield (through technology), reduce waste (through technology) and/or increase agricultural land (through ploughing up unused (wild) countryside). In the same way as people are realising that nuclear has to be part of the solution in combatting climate change we have to embrace biotechnology (30 years in the US & still no health effects reported) to combat food security issues.

Or we can watch more people starve to death.

Greta = great

It's very interesting indeed that in that Guardian blog, all the gimps who regurgitate (if you've been following Snapple's posts on Deep Climate) standard right-wing circulated, Russian anti-AGW propaganda, are jumping up and down to insist (with no evidence whatsoever) that the leaks are the work of a brave whistleblower, and how can the Guardian be so cruel as to set its readership on the scent of the hacker which may expose the poor brave whistleblower when the Guardian just totally loves whistleblowers.

I think at this point (given their usual orchestration of anti-AGW campaigns in the UK) I would have the entire governing body of the GWPF waterboarded (it's OK, we've been Congressionally assured it's not proper torture) and see what ... er ... surfaces.

Chris, lets get independent long term feeding trials as a basic minimum. I.e. where the trials are both independent and run over a longer period than 28 days. And as as early development is high risk we must include pregnant and young as well as mature subjects - and study the effects on those born into feeding trials.

>*lobbying for stricter controls effectively prices anyone out of the market except the multi-nationals.*

Understood, which is why it should be government run until the basics are better understood. Its high risk to turn large parts of this infant technology into a self protecting profit machine prior to open independent trials.

AmandaS

You point out a key problem - 'redundancy' in ecosystems being lost. This is one of the themes Jeff H and others have taken great pains to explain and expand on, regrettably with little effect on policy makers and the media, let alone the public. Allied to that is that in many instances we still have only a sketchy knowledge of species interactions and relationships (come to that we are discovering new species all the time, and many of the species we have already discovered we know little more than their name), and thus can only guess at how broad or limited the scope of redundancy is within any particular niche or ecosystem.

It seems undeniable that the penny will drop only when large-scale species extinction becomes so severe that even government and big business can't ignore it - but by that time it will be largely too late to remedy the problems. Perhaps just as worrying as the extremes is the steady attrition of species, first at local scales, then regional, then throughout their range. In some ways this "death by a thousand cuts" gradual loss is harder to deal with, and thus more pernicious in its effects. One of the biggest problems climate change presents slow-moving or sessile organisms is how quickly (if at all) they can adapt to significant changes in rainfall, mean min/ max temperatures or shifts in seasonal weather patterns. There is some hope that more mobile or adaptable species may be able to shift their ranges sufficiently quickly, but this presumes that (a) there are habitats available that they can colonise (given suitable temperature, rainfall, soil, microbial and disturbance regimes *and* that that particular niche isn't already fiercely contested) and (b) suitably intact corridors between their current location and the alternative sites. And we know that despite good intentions and a handful of regions that are doing their best to retain corridors and links, the bigger picture is that we are relentlessly removing habitats, breaking links and fragmenting remaining patches. And this is Australia, a "developed" country - the picture in "developing" nations is often less rosy.

Given the obstacles even relatively adaptable species face, what price niche specialists and those taxa already listed as threatened?

Chris s can only respond by attacking me with more ad hominems, just like the AGW deniers do. If he really wanted to see what is going on with GM crops in North America he can quite easily use Google or Google Scholar to find papers and articles outlining what I have already told him.

Try searching for "Fusarium head blight" in wheat in fields previously used for RR crops. Search for
sudden death syndrome in soy. Or check out the huge problems farmers are having with "super weeds". Seems to me that Chris is going around either with is head in the sand or certainly he has blinkers on. You can always tell who doesn't have science on their side when they resort to an ad hominem attack on scientists.

Jakerman, one of the reasons that there are very few reports on the negative health effects (animals) is that you have to obtain any GM crop you want to experiment with from a GM company (to provide the provenance required for publication in a peer reviewed journal). In order to do this you have to sign an agreement that the company gets to vet your results before publication. Obviously, if the results are negative, they will not give permission for publication. Hopefully, scientists are challenging this.

A good example is the feeding trial on cattle in Germany where some of the animals died and the company aborted the test and disposed of all the animals without investigating the cause of death.

http://www.i-sis.org.uk/isp/WhyGMisunsafe.php

I know this is not a "peer reviewed" article and people like Chris will blow a fuse again but these are reputable scientists who are finding these results. I suspect that Chris will accuse these scientists of being part of a "conspiracy" just like the AGW deniers do when they don't like what science and scientists are telling them.

By Ian Forrester (not verified) on 26 Nov 2011 #permalink

Chris S., you stupid arrogant ass, we can judge for ourselves whether Ian Forrester is like Rick Bradford et. al. without your bleating guidance. (He's not.)

"which has never been proven to be safe" Appeal to uncertainty - where have I seen that before?

Such remarkable intellectual dishonesty. The correct analogy is to those who point out that it's a bad idea to experiment with the only planet we have by continuing to pour GHGs into the atmosphere. The problem with the "appeal to uncertainty" of the deniers is its dishonesty, its denial of established fact. What Ian Forrester wrote is in no way analogous. What the deniers are certain of -- without evidence -- is that controlling GHGs will destroy economies, analogous to your own certainties about the need for GM (and nuclear).

P.S.

eatdrinkbetter? please

That was jakerman, not Ian.

Chris S

We have an urgent need to feed 7 billion+ people & counting. There are three ways to do this, increase yield (through technology), reduce waste (through technology) and/or increase agricultural land (through ploughing up unused (wild) countryside).

No, there are at least 3 more - stop building out agricultural land; stop developed nations wasting food; and stop developed nations exploiting arable land in developing nations for their own greedy, wasteful choices.

GM is at best a stopgap that does not and will not fix starvation, largely because feeding the starving doesn't turn a profit (you need to sell its "benefits" to developed nations to do that).

Look, I realise you lot are down in the dumps what with your heroes being shown up as shifty bunch of incompetents but this time I bring you Good News:

"Conservationists are overestimating the number of species that have been driven to extinction, scientists have said. A study has found that a third of all mammal species declared extinct in the past few centuries have turned up alive and well. Some of the more reclusive creatures managed to hide from sight for 80 years only to reappear within four years of being officially named extinct in the wild."

There you are, you see, it's not just those caribou who wander off without telling anyone! And, especially for our host, I am pleased to say that this news comes from an 'Aussiette':

"But while the report does not play down the threat from deforestation, overfishing or habitat destruction, it raises questions about the way species are classified as extinct. Dr Diana Fisher, of the University of Queensland, Australia, compiled a list of all mammals declared extinct since the 16th century or which were flagged up as missing in scientific papers. âWe identified 187 mammal species that have been missing since 1500,â she wrote in the journal Proceedings of the Royal Society B. âIn the complete data-set, 67 species that were once missing have been rediscovered. More than a third of mammal species that have been classified as extinct or possibly extinct, or flagged as missing, have been rediscovered.â"

http://www.dailymail.co.uk/sciencetech/article-1315964/One-extinct-anim…

No need to praise me, a simple thank you will do!

Congratulations on linking to a year old article from the Daily Mail, Duff. I'm sure that will distract everyone from the mockery your previous comments have generated.

what with your heroes being shown up as shifty bunch of incompetents

No that would be your heroes Duffer, whose sabotage attempt this time round has had all the impact of a not so much damp as rainsoaked squib, left in the bath for a week then ignited with a wet flint.

I realise self-awareness is something you would avoid like the plague, but you really should be careful of your own projection. It's uncannily accurate.

Keith Olbermann speculated in July that the CRU email hacker was Neil Wallis, Executive Editor of Murdoch's News Of The World when phone hacking was at its peak. Wallis acted as a double agent for both Scotland Yard and Rupert Murdoch. Wallis also tricked the CRU into hiring him as a PR pro to help them fight back against fraud charges in the press, but Wallis, the AGW denier and Murdoch employee, did a hatchet job in defending the CRU.

http://readersupportednews.org/opinion2/276-74/6704-murdoch-henchman-re…

It was right after the initial hack that Duff started crowing about the AGW "ship sinking" (why the bad metaphors?)

>Itâs going, people! The good ship âGlobal Changeâ run by that less than salubrious shipping line, AGW Inc., is sinking fast. I regret to inform you that your shipâs officers have steered you onto (delicious irony) an iceberg which according to them should have melted years ago, and your honourary Commodore, Adm. Gore, is likely to be the first into the lifeboat. I advise you to do the same and paddle away as fast as you can lest the undertow drags you down.

Two years later: the temperatures have gone up and the evidence has only grown stronger, but all Duff has to crow about is this sad little release of emails which have been ignored by everyone but the gullible fools of the denialosphere (er, that's you, er, Duff!), the same fools who were boasting two years ago that the whole theory was going to collapse at any moment.

Yep.

Any, er, day now!

>As an aside, what's with deniers affecting this sort of "Drawing Room wit" thing?

It's so Duff can back out of any statement he makes as "just having a laff!".

Duff, like most deniers, is a gutless coward too frightened to stand by his own words, hence the endless caveats on his insipid blog that he doesn't know what he's talking about. He's such a cad and a wit, you see!

Trying to have an intelligent exchange with Duff is impossible, it is like trying to pin a jelly to the wall for the intelligence, knowledge and honesty is all this side.

Duff Beer, meet Duff Jelly (or Jell-O for our American readers).

Right, that's it! Finished! No more Mr. Nice Guy! Here's me giving up an entire, er, minute of my time to pick a bit of ecological 'Good News' from the huge quantities that abound in the MSM and all I get for my troubles is abuse and insults! And I only did it out of pity for your plight because I know what it's like to have one's dreams dashed - look what happened to our idiots in New Zealand last month! Well, you asked for it, so here it comes, a nice example of what passes for 'science' in the 'la-la-land of scientology', ooops, sorry I meant 'climatology'. From Briffa to Bradley with my italics added:

"Hi Ray
thanks for the communication -
â¦
Now to the comments re the EOS piece. I believe you criticised the inclusion of the 2000 (Eurasian ) tree-ring series (since reiterated by Malcolm). Fair enough , though again misguided in my opinion if on the basis of âcontains few data â or â has weak climate responseâ . I was perfectly happy to drop it ( I never suggested its inclusion in the first place), but I find it somewhat ironic that it should be replaced with the latest (Mann and Jones) series that contains the same three series plus a mixture of other far more dubious (not to say bad ) series â I agree with the remarks you made re some of these (particularly the Chinese series) in your recent email to someone. I consider that this new series (plus the illustration of the Western US series in the EOS) piece will âstimulate further discussion â in the field , both between we palaeo-types and the Sceptics.

I and Tim have been left to submit this and the balance of pressure seems to be to submit as is â if we remove the suspicious Chinese series we would have to delay things further (Ellen is hassling for us to submit) and , anyway, it is still contained in the Long series. I am of the opinion that the points made in the piece still stand â and by signing on, we are not individually sanctioning all the curves or data used in the illustrations ( There are genuine problems with ALL of them). We will therefore , add Malcolmâs name and submit the version we now have. Hope this OK with all.
â¦
Keith"

Oh my giddy aunt, I still haven't stopped laughing, talk about truth coming from the mouths of babes and suckers, sorry, I mean, sucklings!

God, what a squalid lot they are!

With all that hot, explicit, intimate climate action compelling you to come running over here with your little hard on, it really shouldn't be too difficult for you attempt a refutation of that 2003 paper now you've got the inside gen, no?

No, there are at least 3 more

Another is to stop the Catholic Church's attacks on birth control.

'Chek', do you seriously believe anything in a paper containing data which one of the contributors describes as:

"the same three series plus a mixture of other far more dubious (not to say bad ) series"

or

"we are not individually sanctioning all the curves or data used in the illustrations ( There are genuine problems with ALL of them)".

Given all of that, is it even worth looking at? Or would it be put to better use by being chopped into squares and nailed to a 'karzie' wall of the type favoured, I gather, by our Aussie cousins in the outback 'down there'? On the other hand, if you are happy to swallow it whole, including the "dubious" and "genuine problems" then I wonder if I could interest you in one of my second-hand cars, one owner (Hertz rentals), full service history (I printed it myself), unbelievably low mileage (Oops, scratch "un" from that, I had it printed myself) and no signs of a repaint (because I've got it parked tight up against a wall). Be honest, wotcha' fink?

Also, may I suggest a cold shower, I sense you are becoming a little over-excited.

Duffer,

Again, your comic-book level analyses are quite astonishingly naive. I have a feeling that you spend the better part of several days frantically surfing the internet to find this piece of gobbledegook. It doesn't really matter if a species that was thought to be extinct turns up somewhere in a tiny, relic population. First of all, the survivors will contain limited genetic variability, making them much less adapted to environmental stressors than larger populations. For many vertebrates, the minimum viable population is at least several hundred, and thus small populations that exhibit inbreeding are highly susceptible to intrinsic threats such as pathogens or extrinsic threats such as habitat fragmentation or loss. Second, species that perform vital roles in nature - such as keystone species or ecosystem engineers - must generally be abundant enough to fulfill these important functional roles. Relic populations cannot do this. For purely aesthetic reasons, its nice to know that a species considered extinct may be hanging on by the skin of its teeth, but this does nothing to allay the fears of a widespread extinction event relating to genetically distinct populations. A study in Science (1997) by Hughes et al. estimated that the planet might be losing up to 30,000 genetically distinct populations every day, a statistic of profound concern. The late Julian Simon, who also tried to downplay extinction rates, also had trouble understanding the concept of genetic viability and ecological function, much as you do.

Most importantly, your argument does nothing whatsoever to allay the fact that we are well into the planet's sixth extinction event and the first generated by one of its evolved inhabitants. On the other side of the ledger, many species considered to be extant today are almost certainly extinct. The IUCN only considers that a species is formally extinct when it has not been observed for at least 50 years. Many species in the Mata Atlantica forests of eastern Brazil have not been seen since the 1960s and 1970s and are almost certainly extinct, but they are still classified as extant. Ultimately, its a lot easier to assume as species still exists than to assume it doesn't. Finally, its certain that many species, particularly tropical invertebrates, have become extinct without ever being formally classified. This is because tropical species have much smaller ranges than their temperate counterparts (see discussions by Gaston, Blackburn et al.) and thus the destruction of ~ 50% of tropical wet forests has certainly resulted in the mass extinctions of species that were never identified.

Bottom line Duffer: you are wrong (again). As an earlier poster said, considering that I assume you are a grown man, the basal level of your 'intellectual discourse' is disturbing, to say the least.

By Jeff Harvey (not verified) on 27 Nov 2011 #permalink

If we were to refuse to believe anything in any work that has some dubious (in the opinion of some) content, then we would have to disregard anything said by Duff or any other denier/"skeptic". Hmmm, maybe that's not such a bad strategy after all ... of course, the parenthetical in "dubious (not to say bad)" does not apply in their case.

It's amusing that Duff is so stupid that he offers up Briffa's comments in which he says that criticism of inclusion of a tree ring series is misguided, that he isn't saying that the other included series are bad, and that the points made in the piece still stand -- as a reason that nothing in the paper is to believed ... a hallmark idiotic non sequitur to a request for a refutation. But of course he cannot provide a refutation because he is too stupid and ignorant to even comprehend this email, let alone any scientific paper.

>is it even worth looking at?

No, why *would* you, er, want to read a scientific paper? Why *would* you want to know the context?

>I sense you are becoming a little over-excited.

My thoughts exactly, Duff! The only person who, er, thinks these emails mean anything is, er, you!

Duff reminds me of those pathetic conspiracy theorists who think the that 9/11 was an inside job. Who needs scientific evidence when he has *emails*!

Lurker here. Let's see if I understand what's going on in the email David Duff posted in 160. * A group of scientists are haggling over the details of a paper they are about to submit. * At least one of them, "Keith", would prefer not to include some data that at least one of the others would like to include. * He does so because he considers the quality of the data in question to be too low to be worth including. * At least one of the other authors disagrees. * "Keith", apparently under some sort of deadline pressure is, reservations and all, prepared to defer to the other authors and submit the paper as is. * He notes - and this is important - that the sceptics are likely to seize on this debatable data. * He also notes that all of the data has some problems. * He also states "I am of the opinion that the points made in the piece still stand", that is that the paper, warts and all, has useful and publishable results. Is there anything "squalid" here? If readers of the paper are able to independently judge for themselves the usefulness of the data; either because that data and its issues were already publicly available, or because enough information was provided in the paper, then the answer is an easy no, nothing squalid about it. The fact that "Keith" expects sceptics to jump on that data indicates to me that that condition has been met. What about the fact that "Keith" considers all the data to have some problems? That would depend on how bad the problems were. The fact that he was ready to go forward with publication indicates to me that the problems weren't fatal to the paper. I would be willing to bet money sight unseen, that somewhere in that paper those problems were pointed out for future research.

On the other hand, if you are happy to swallow it whole

Naturally, ignorant unscientific gits like Duff think that we operate the way they do ... either disregarding something in its entirety because it doesn't fit one's preconceptions and ideology or swallowing it whole because it does. Being too stupid to pass basic science courses, Duff reads "attempt a refutation" as implying "if you don't succeed, we must take this paper as gospel".

Is there anything "squalid" here?

Only David Duff and his boner.

Chris S writes:
>*Guys, if you saw (say) Rick Bradford linking to lobbyist websites & papers (eatdrinkbetter? please*

Unfortunately this is ad hom fallacy. Attacking the source instead of [the content](http://scienceblogs.com/deltoid/2011/11/stolen_cru_emails_the_rejects.p…).

The content being avoided is that there are important [indictors of potential harm](http://www.biolsci.org/v05p0706.htm) that are not being followed up, and in fact Monsanto is blocking independent research.

Chris S unfortunately also engages in the cherry picking fallacy when comparing AGW and GMO debates.

Not only does Chris distort some comparisons, even those chosen make a very thin comparison. We could make a list the elements of comparison that Chris over looks. This list might include:

- Struggle to appropriately address the risk of potential disruption the ecosphere for thousands of generations;

- Notorious corporations capturing elements of the state apparatus. (In the biotech space government agencies have under gone policy shift requiring govt researchers gain partnership with corporations. The capture of elements of government by the energy sector has a longer history and is better understood.)

- Concentration of power within the sector dominating the industry sector's policy;

- AGW scientists are making [critical data available](http://www.realclimate.org/index.php/data-sources/) and are not [blocking independent tirals](http://articles.latimes.com/2011/feb/13/opinion/la-oe-guriansherman-see…). Imagine if "The Auditors" applied similar standards of transparency to GMO trials?

John:

Any, er, day now!

Interesting graph. The (honest) denialists like to make an issue about how we don't have evidence that it's now warmer than the Roman warm period but this graph makes it look like a good chance that they may be able to show that there is now less Arctic Ocean ice than there has been since the Eemian (125,000 years ago).

By Chris O'Neill (not verified) on 27 Nov 2011 #permalink

Hard to believe, but Duff's post is even more ridiculous that it appears on first inspection. EOS is not a journal. It is the AGU's weekly newspaper whose articles "offer solid overviews of topics central to broad research questions; updates on major projects and programs; news items; meeting summaries; opinion pieces; book reviews; and announcements of job opportunities, grants, and fellowships".

The piece to which Duff refers was not a peer reviewed research article.

Anyone who has written such a piece faces serious issues. You can't explore the data in any rigour, you are often encouraged to be slightly provocative to generate discussion, and you can't publish your latest results because a journal will reject anything that has been published already. Anything that has been published elsewhere is copyrighted. So, collecting meaningful data to illustrate such a piece is difficult.

And hence the discussion in the email. Read it again and suddenly the reasons for the wording become clear, and Duff's faux scandal evaporates.

I might use this to also teach Duff about a couple of other aspects of environmental science. First, let's take this comment: "There are genuine problems with ALL of them". Of course there are. All environmental datasets have problems because the environment is so complex. The question is the signal to noise ratio, which if positive allows conclusions to be drawn. This is why we use multiple datasets and very careful analyses. In other words you can't determine global temperature change from one tree ring dataset, but you can from multiple proxies if the quality is good enough, even though each individual data point has errors and uncertainties associated with it.

Second, a comment that a discussion piece will "stimulate further discussion in the field, both between we palaeo-types and the Sceptics." is probably actually rather positive, right?

Duff, we know that it must be a nightmare to be trying to engage meaningfully in a forum in which you so obviously out of your depth, but a little thought and background research (google is your friend) will help you to stop embarrassing yourself so badly. You never know, with care you might someday make a meaningful contribution. I look forward to that occurring, but have little optimism that it will happen soon.

By GWB's nemesis (not verified) on 27 Nov 2011 #permalink

Tresmal's analysis weren't bad at all!

On the other hand Duffer looks like he just can't get there anymore, and thinks an audience might help. I suggest we leave him to his own devices...

Ah, finally at #170 there is something of substance to respond to so I shall gloss over Ian's continued ("I know this is not a "peer reviewed" article") denialism (note the scare quotes) and respond to jakerman's substansive critiscisms:

"Unfortunately this is ad hom fallacy. Attacking the source instead of the content."

Fair enough, I would just point out that CRIIGen are analagous to the GWPF - a policy oriented organisation. Not a science oriented one (see below).

"The content being avoided is that there are important indictors of potential harm that are not being followed up, and in fact Monsanto is blocking independent research."

Interestingly the same CRIIGen authors had published similar results in 2007 leading to an independent [Expert Panel review](http://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S0278691507003249) which found "errors of fact presented in the Séralini et al. report", that "Séralini et al. repeated the statistical analysis conducted in the Monsanto analyses and obtained the same results with regard to the descriptive statistics", and that "the lack of biological plausibility of the possible cause proposed by Séralini et al. (2007) (i.e., organ and/or hormonal dysfunction), the lack of doseâresponse, and the small difference, the body weight findings are considered to be unrelated to MON 863 treatment and probably the result of normal variation", concluding that "Séralini et al. (2007) paper does not advance any new scientific data to indicate that MON 863 caused adverse effects in the 90-day rat study."

Now of course that was an Expert Panel review of an earlier paper but, given the independent findings of that do you really expect them to bother with convening another Expert Panel on results that utilised the same dodgy statistical analysis and over-interpreted the findings in exactly the same way as they did before? Results from an organisation with a track history of anti-GM lobbying? I think the term is rebunking. An organisation that â as can be seen from jakermanâs first link â prefers to conduct science via press release. In addition, the crops in question (Roundup Ready & Bt crops) have been in production in the US for >10 years and the documented negative effects on human health have beenâ¦

But they looked anyway: The High Council of Biotechnologies Scientific Committee found that âOnly the arguments of a statistical nature, unacceptable to a statistician or toxicologist, are held up to justify the conclusions of this study.â And that âtheir conclusions are based solely on an interpretation of certain isolated changes in haematological and biochemical constants. No link is made to other key parameters in the assessment of toxicity, for example the results of macroscopic and histological examinations.â (3w.food.gov.uk/multimedia/pdfs/acnfp9612a2). Whilst Food Standards Australia & New Zealand stated âSéralini and colleagues have distorted the toxicological significance of their results by placing undue emphasis on the statistical treatment of data, and failing to take other relevant factors into account.â (3w.foodstandards.gov.au/scienceandeducation/factsheets/factsheets2009/fsanzresponsetoseral4647.cfm)
Undue emphasis on the statistical treatment of data, failing to take other relevant factors into account. Now, Iâve heard that somewhere before⦠FSANZ also say something else familiar â âSéralini and colleagues reject the consensus viewâ.

âChris S unfortunately also engages in the cherry picking fallacy when comparing AGW and GMO debatesâ

In truth I was comparing Ian Forresterâs debating method within the framework, but carry on.

âNot only does Chris distort some comparisons, even those chosen make a very thin comparison. We could make a list the elements of comparison that Chris over looksâ
No words spent on the specifics of the comparisons made though (appeal to news articles before research, attacks on character(isation) rather than argument, avoidance of direct questions etc).

âStruggle to appropriately address the risk of potential disruption the ecosphere for thousands of generationsâ
Depends on your definition of appropriate I suppose, I wonder how much you would deem appropriate? Currently new GM technology undergoes ~10 years of research from creation to market encompassing health, environmental & socio-economic risk assessment & testing. Would 20 years be better? 50? Currently waiting for approval through regulatory bodies are technologies that would lessen the impacts of extreme weather (e.g. drought & flood resistant cereals), biofortified crops that improve the nutritional value of crops (e.g. golden rice) and numerous crops that would increase yield. How many famines will we see before they are allowed to be used?

âNotorious corporations capturing elements of the state apparatus.â
âConcentration of power within the sector dominating the industry sector's policyâ
Yep, as I said earlier that is a major problem with GM â a problem exacerbated by the fact that anti-GM lobbyists insist on ever increasing hurdles to bringing technologies to market â at ever increasing costs that mean only those companies that can afford tens of millions of dollars to spend on risk assessment & testing can bring these to markets.

I suppose this aspect of the debate is more akin to the anti-vax movement than the AGW debate.
âAGW scientists are making critical data available and are not blocking independent tirals.â

I link above to an independent trial, though I agree there is little independent work done â because no-one can afford to in the main.

jakerman, Iâve responded to your points. Now tell me do you think the paper you linked to, a paper that is found by two independent reviews to be shoddy statistically, to reject the consensus view, to have failed to take important factors into account and to have been pushed though many lobby organisations despite these failing to be closer to the IPCC scientific method or the GWPF method?

Oh, I did want to comment on this from Ian:

"Try searching for "Fusarium head blight" in wheat in fields previously used for RR crops. Search for sudden death syndrome in soy. Or check out the huge problems farmers are having with "super weeds"."

All these issues are issues with glyphosate usage. Glyphosate is the most common herbicide in use in the US, in both non-GM & GM crops.

Anti-science campaigners like to confuse glyphosate use with GM crops (mainly due to Roundup Ready) but it should be borne in mind that glyphosate issues are related to non-GM conventional agriculture.

Chris s doesn't know what he is talking about. Glyphosate is so toxic to plants that farmers only use it when they want to completely sterilize a field. It is not part of the normal weed control when they are growing a crop, unless of course the crop is RR. Seems to me he should know a little bit more about farming before he sticks his neck out and shows his ignorance of farming.

If anyone really wants to see the negative health effects of RR technology, and you can't isolate parts of the technology and say "one part is safe, it is the other part which causes problems", unless they are wearing blinkers.

What is going on in Argentina these days is criminal. The herbicides are causing a huge increase in the incidence of birth defects, cancers and deaths. Land owners are turning their backs on contractors who deliberately spray herbicides onto local farmers who are refusing to move so that they can buy up their land to produce more GM soya.

This is a disgrace and a complete misuse of the so-called "science".

http://tinyurl.com/c9bljrd

http://tinyurl.com/2b4duw2

Anyone should be ashamed to support these tactics.

I see that Chris has still not apologized to me for his ad hominem comments saying I am anti-science. Well here is a quote saying essentially the same as I said. I wonder if he will call them anti-science. I will let the Google sleuths find the source of the quote and see who Chris is calling "anti-science":

For example, it is not true that all genetically engineered foods are toxic or that all released engineered organisms are likely to proliferate in the environment. But specific engineered organisms may be harmful by virtue of the novel gene combinations they possess. This means that the risks of genetically engineered organisms must be assessed case by case and that these risks can differ greatly from one gene-organism combination to another.

So far, scientists have identified a number of ways in which genetically engineered organisms could potentially adversely impact both human health and the environment. Once the potential harms are identified, the question becomes how likely are they to occur. The answer to this question falls into the arena of risk assessment.

In addition to posing risks of harm that we can envision and attempt to assess, genetic engineering may also pose risks that we simply do not know enough to identify. The recognition of this possibility does not by itself justify stopping the technology, but does put a substantial burden on those who wish to go forward to demonstrate benefits.

By Ian Forrester (not verified) on 28 Nov 2011 #permalink

Ian: Last revised: Last Revised: 10/30/02.

You think there's been no work done in the last 10 years? Really?

Oh and here's something to get your teeth in to: [Global food demand and the sustainable intensification
of agriculture](http://www.pnas.org/content/early/2011/11/16/1116437108.full.pdf) "If current trends of greater agricultural intensification in richer nations and greater land clearing (extensification) in poorer nations were to continue, â¼1 billion ha of land would be cleared globally by 2050, with CO2-C equivalent greenhouse gas emissions reaching â¼3 Gt yâ1 and N use â¼250 Mt yâ1 by then. In contrast, if 2050 crop demand was met by moderate intensification focused on existing croplands of underyielding nations, adaptation and transfer of high-yielding technologies to these croplands, and global technological improvements, our analyses forecast land clearing of only â¼0.2 billion ha, greenhouse gas emissions of â¼1 Gt yâ1, and global N use of â¼225 Mt yâ1."

By the way, glyphosate: The EPA estimates that in the US during 2007, the agricultural market used 180 to 185 million pounds (82,000 to 84,000 tonnes) of glyphosate, the home and garden market used 5 to 8 million pounds (2,300 to 3,600 tonnes), and industry, commerce and government used 13 to 15 million pounds (5,900 to 6,800 tonnes) (Wikipedia, so treat with caution). I wasn't aware that GM technology had got into the home & garden market ;-)

Try a little harder to understand the science and a bit less on focussing on apparently nasty comments.

"You are so ignorant of the world around you. You must be intolerable to have as a neighbor."

Chris s continues his ad hominem attacks:

I would just point out that CRIIGen are analagous to the GWPF - a policy oriented organisation. Not a science oriented one

Anyone who wants to see who and what CRIIGEN are should check out their web site.

http://www.criigen.org/SiteEn/index.php

The only similarities between those two organizations is that both web sites are in English, there is no further similarities. CRIIGEN actually contract scientists to carry out research and have it published in the peer reviewed scientific literature.

Is chris s a mole for the AGW deniers? Sounds like it to me. Remember the saying that is used by the AGW deniers to smear climate scientists, "it is hard to disagree with something when your pay cheque depends on believing it"? Same thing with GMO promoters.

By Ian Forrester (not verified) on 28 Nov 2011 #permalink

chris s is digging deeper and deeper. My neighbours and dogs are thankful that I don't use herbicides in my back yard. How much do you use?

And by the way, please comment on what is going on in Argentina, seems like I know a lot more of what is going on around the world than you do.

By Ian Forrester (not verified) on 28 Nov 2011 #permalink

Ian, I'll repeat what Food Standards Australia New Zealand say about CRIIGen (quoted above):

âSéralini and colleagues have distorted the toxicological significance of their results by placing undue emphasis on the statistical treatment of data, and failing to take other relevant factors into account.â ... âSéralini and colleagues reject the consensus viewâ [Here](http://www.foodstandards.gov.au/scienceandeducation/factsheets/factshee…)

As for the neighbours quote, that's out of your own mouth.

But yeah, smear me a little Ian, it's all you've got when the science isn't on your side.

chris s refers to FSANZ and thinks that it is the last word on the safety of GM food. Well, I don't care what they say because, like other regulatory agencies, they are probably in the pockets of the GM industry. This is certainly a fact for the US, most likely for the UK and most probably A&NZ. This, of course is how GM foods were approved in the first place, not by studying real science but only reading the reports provided by the companies producing the seeds and unbelievably, did the testing themselves. Talk about conflict of interest!

Here are some comments about FSANZ:

http://www.gmwatch.org/component/search/FSANZ?ordering=&searchphrase=all

Just watch the ad hominems coming from chris s when he sees that I have cited GMWatch.

As for ad hominems chris s has provided more in this comment:

Ian: Last revised: Last Revised: 10/30/02.

You think there's been no work done in the last 10 years? Really?

No reference as to where it comes from but presumably it is in reference to the two cites I provided about the health effects of glyphosate. If he had actually read them he would have seen that they were both written in 2010 not 2002 as he seems to think.

It is sad that people such as chris s are using exactly the same tactics as the AGW deniers, tobacco advocates, ozone/CFC deniers etc by attacking real science and relying on the misinformation put out by the industries directly benefiting from the mis-use of science.

In case anyone is wondering why I don't believe a word of what Monsanto says, here is a list of lies and misinformation put out by them in the past:

"Agent Orange does not harm humans"

"No harmful effects from PCB's"

"We have not polluted the streams around Anniston, Alabama"

"Glyphosate is perfectly safe for humans and animals"

Please note that I am paraphrasing and they are not the actual words used by Monsanto but the meanings are clear.

By Ian Forrester (not verified) on 28 Nov 2011 #permalink

Chris S, interesting that you continue to ignore the major point that Monsanto is blocking access to their GMO seed for independent trials.

Flaws in independent trials must flow from that point!

Spiroux et al 2009 was only possible following a court order to access Monsanto's data. They were blocked from running their own trials. The importance of Spiroux 2009 is not that it describes an optimal trial. Rather that it exposes the insufficiency of Monsanto's analysis:

>*The most fundamental point to bear in mind from the outset is that a sample size of 10 for biochemical parameters measured two times in 90 days is largely insufficient to ensure an acceptable degree of power to the statistical analysis performed and presented by Monsanto. For example, concerning the statistical power in a t test at 5%, with the comparison of 2 samples of 10 rats, **there is 44% chance to miss a significant effect of 1 standard deviation (SD; power 56%).** In this case to have a power of 80% would necessitate a sample size of 17 rats. Therefore, the statistical power is insufficient in these studies to allow an a priori dismissal of all significant effects.*

The oddly named High Council of Biotechnologies Scientific Committee agree that [Monsanto's analysis is flawed](http://www.food.gov.uk/multimedia/pdfs/acnfp9612a2):

>*the statistical analysis traditionally used by a number of petitioners, including Monsanto, show certain weaknesses that make it impossible to conclude with sufficient ertainty that there are no health and environmental risks associated with GMOs.*

>*The study by J. Spiroux de Vendômois et al. suffers from the same idiosyncracies and weaknesses as the studies presented by Monsanto in its licence application dossier*

>*The analysis presented in the Monsanto dossier uses historic data to explain that the differences observed are not biologically significant. However, the statistical methodology lacks rigour and is not acceptable to the statistician.*

There are many indicators that GMO may be harmful that are not being followed up, in fact that are being blocked by Monsanto. That Spiroux can demonstrate clear harm using Monsanto's inappropriately powered trial is not surprising. Monsanto lack of power in their trials is equivalent to head in the sand make sure we can't find anything trialing.

Even better, Monsanto must be stripped of their power to veto and block independent trials.

My elipes fell out

The oddly named High Council of Biotechnologies Scientific Committee agree that Monsanto's analysis is flawed:

>*the statistical analysis traditionally used by a number of petitioners, including Monsanto, show certain weaknesses that make it impossible to conclude with sufficient ertainty that there are no health and environmental risks associated with GMOs.*
[...]

>*The study by J. Spiroux de Vendômois et al. suffers from the same idiosyncracies and weaknesses as the studies presented by Monsanto in its licence application dossier*
[...]

>*The analysis presented in the Monsanto dossier uses historic data to explain that the differences observed are not biologically significant. However, the statistical methodology lacks rigour and is not acceptable to the statistician.*

chris s seems to like the smear campaign launched by Monsanto and other GM promoters on G-E Seralini since he has linked to a number of articles criticizing his work.

Dr. Seralini is another respected scientist who has dared to publish results showing the negative effects of GM technology. He joins a notable body of scientists who have also been smeared including Dr. Arpad Pusztai, Dr. Ignacio Chapela, Dr. Irina Ermakova et al. All these scientists did was carry out research to see if the claims made by the GM promoters were in fact valid.

In all cases they found that the GM promoters were wrong in their claims. This resulted in a nasty backlash against these scientists and their careers were put in jeopardy. They used the same tactics that AGW deniers have used to smear Dr. Michael Mann and Dr. Phil Jones but the results were much nastier. Dr. Putzai was fired from his position, Dr. Chapella had to fight to get tenure and Dr. Irina Ermakova had her reputation put in shatters by the visciousness of the smear campaign. Very nasty people, these GM promoters.

Dr. Seralini recently sued a number of prominent GM promoters for libel and won his case. Notable among the three promoters he sued was Claude Allegre who is a notable AGW denier (check him out at RealClimate).

http://www.gmwatch.org/latest-listing/1-news-items/12813-more-on-serali…

I see that chris s is continuing with his ad homeinem attacks, this time suggesting that those of us who are telling the truth about GM technology are no better than, in his words, "anti-vaxers":

I suppose this aspect of the debate is more akin to the anti-vax movement than the AGW debate.

I notice that he still hasn't commented on the health effects found in Argentina, instead he prefers to use that well known tactic used by AGW deniers, the Gish Gallop.

I haven't used too many cites but what I say can be easily verified by doing a simple search on Google, Google Scholar or PubMed.

By Ian Forrester (not verified) on 28 Nov 2011 #permalink

jakerman:

" the major point that Monsanto is blocking access to their GMO seed for independent trials."

A damning indictment. But also a lie.

[This review](http://www.annualreviews.org/eprint/9Ntsbp8nBKFATMuPqVje/full/10.1146/a…) cites many studies on GM technology. Despite sponsoring some public research and occasionally resisting unfettered investigation of its seeds, Monsanto is not behind the studies cited.

Another common lie is to conflate GM agriculture with issues relating to intensive agriculture in general (see virtually all of Ian's arguments). And I'll agree that there are severe issues with intensive agriculture. Issues that will need to be solved sooner rather than later. But I'll point again to the Tilman paper I linked to in #177.

Note that while jakerman tries hard to defend a discredited paper from a lobbyist and Ian Gish-gallops around India and Argentina neither has tackled one major point that I keep coming back to. I'll put in in bold this time so maybe they won't ignore it:

[b]GM food has been eaten by millions in North America for decades without so much as an itch, let alone serious health effects[/b]

Seralini needs to use legal rather than scientific means to promote his case. Ermakova presents results in conference but never for peer review, results that others have contradicted, including Teshima et al from Japan's Institute of Health Science, Zhu et al from Chian Agricultural University & Brake & Evenson from S. Dakota State University. Chapella was outspokenly critical of the University he was applying for tenure at. Putzai's data didn't fit its conclusions & its publication has been attacked by the Royal Society for being politically rather than scientifically motivated. But keep focussing on these non-issues and keep holding these scientists up as plucky outsiders that are fighting against the consensus - Judith Curry would be proud. And keep picking & choosing your science to support your politics.

"The acceptance of myths about GE crops poses real dangers. To name a few, famine-stricken Zambia rejected food aid in 2002 because it was GE and presumed to be dangerous. Provitamin A enriched âGolden Riceâ is stalled and awaiting approval when it could be preventing blindness in children. Open research of GE crops in Europe has almost vanished, not because of Monsanto, but, ironically, because anti-GE activists routinely destroy field trials."
- Patrick Cournoyer, Yale.

> This review cites many studies on GM technology

Were they independent, or did they have to sign an agreement first?

Chris S,

No comment on [Monsanto's flawed trials](http://scienceblogs.com/deltoid/2011/11/stolen_cru_emails_the_rejects.p…). Quite a gaping hole in Chris Sâ response. Both interesting, and sad.

Chris also alleges that it is "a lie" that Monsanto is blocking independent trials.

I've linked to the [case presented](http://articles.latimes.com/2011/feb/13/opinion/la-oe-guriansherman-see…) by senior scientists that:

>*Monsanto and Syngenta, have restricted independent research on their genetically engineered crops. They have often refused to provide independent scientists with seeds, or they've set restrictive conditions that severely limit research options.*

[...]

>*Public sector research has been blocked. In 2009, 26 university entomologists -- bug scientists -- wrote a letter to the Environmental Protection Agency protesting restricted access to seeds. "No truly independent research can be legally conducted on many critical questions involving these crops," they wrote.*

>*Christian Krupke, a Purdue University entomologist who signed the letter, put it more succinctly to a reporter for a scientific journal. "Industry is completely driving the bus," he said.*

I've spoken personally with Judy Carmen who spoke of her trials being continually impeded by Monsanto, including restricting access to seed.

[We even have Monsanto saying](http://www.abc.net.au/catalyst/stories/3329167.htm) they can block publication trials they don't like the results of. And that they'd prefer 'work with' the researcher at the start to get the type of study they want.

>NARRATION
But to publish, scientists need approval from the owner of the genetic patent.

>Mark Horstman: I'm a researcher, I've got a test going on the impact of a gene of which Monsanto owns a patent.

>If it comes to the crunch, can you veto my research if you don't like the results?

>*Dr James Neilsen: I guess it's a matter of working with that researcher at the start, and working on what they're trying to establish and working through the science of the whole process. I think that's the key. I guess you know, there, there potentially would be the opportunity for the, the research not to go ahead.*

Only Monsanto approved studies are allowed with their seed. So Chris the agreements are not at all like [that one](http://scienceblogs.com/deltoid/2011/11/stolen_cru_emails_the_rejects.p…).

So Chris' allegation of this point being a lie. Instead it remains a damming indictment indeed.

Further more if Monsanto were willing for open science interesting that they were they forced to handover their data to independent researchers under court order?

sigh.

jakerman: "No comment on Monsanto's flawed trials. Quite a gaping hole in Chris Sâ response. Both interesting, and sad."

From the same document: "it is important to reiterate that the role of statistics is to be a tool to aid decision-making, not a decision-making tool! It is not statistics that make it possible to conclude whether a GMO is hazardous to human health or not. Statistics are there to assist the toxicologist in correctly assessing the risks of reaching the wrong conclusions as to the absence or presence of negative effects."

Seralini et al. rely ONLY on the stats. The Monsanto studies use the stats as PART of the process.

"So Chris' allegation of this point being a lie. Instead it remains a damming indictment indeed."

I've linked and referred to several studies conducted independently already. I could link to many more but jakerman will not accept these. Perhaps its a conspiracy.

"Further more if Monsanto were willing for open science interesting that they were they forced to handover their data to independent researchers under court order?"

Well, it could have been an FOIA request if they were a public body I suppose. Now who was making allegations that climate scientists were hiding something because they weren't making the data available? Can you really not see the similarity in approach?

And still no comment on the fact that millions have eaten GM food for decades with no ill effects. Both interesting, and sad.

@187:

That isn't anything to do with Monsato.

And no NDA was required to get nearly 99% of the data.

Double fail.

Then again, you're not worried about lying your ass off for the cause, are you.

So Chris can you clarify this for me first, before we move on, you seem to be Ok with Monsanto using inappropriate stats.

Is it OK with you that Monsanto's safety trials use stats that :

>*show certain weaknesses that make it impossible to conclude with sufficient ertainty that there are no health and environmental risks associated with GMOs.

>*the statistical methodology lacks rigour and is not acceptable to the statistician.*

And that using Monsanto's approach

>*there is 44% chance to miss a significant effect of 1 standard deviation (SD; power 56%)*

jakerman. Those are exactly the same stats & methods that you earlier used to claim "Many of potential health concerns have been identified." Do you still stand by that statement?

Furthermore the Monsanto study in question was assessed by the Robert Koch Institute in Germany who concluded: "From this extensive study, it can be deduced that even after long-term oral exposure to MON 863 maize kernels, no harmful effects are to be expected"

The Scientific Panel on Genetically Modified Organisms of EFSA issued a scientific opinion on Monsantoâs dossier finding "that MON 863 will not have an adverse effect
on human and animal health or the environment in the context of its proposed use.ââ The Panelâs report specifically discussed the findings from the 90-day rat study and they concluded: ââThe results of these 90-day rodent studies do not indicate adverse effects from consumption of maize line MON 863 . . ."

The CGB suggested that Monsanto have an independent pathologic evaluation of the kidneys performed (i.e., third party Expert Panel review). Monsanto organized a pathology peer review of the kidney histological slides and other data relevant to renal function by two expert pathologists, Drs. Gordon Hard and Andrea Terron. Neither pathologist is affiliated with Monsanto. Following their peer review of all clinical data relevant to kidney function including a blinded re-examination of the kidney tissue slides, these pathologists stated: "It was concluded that dietary administration of MON 863 corn did not induce toxic effects in the kidneys of rats"

Against all this you hold up Seralini's flawed stats paper?

Seriously jakerman read the science. Read [Doull et al's report](http://www.ask-force.org/web/Bt/Doull-Seralini-Revisited-2007.pdf) and stop being led around by the nose by the lobbyists.

Will you address the fact that no-one has encountered any health issues from decades of consumption in America yet?

>I've linked and referred to several studies conducted independently already.

No you've linked to study's with no indication of the level of interference, veto or approval experienced.

I sampled [Your list](http://www.annualreviews.org/eprint/9Ntsbp8nBKFATMuPqVje/full/10.1146/a…) and searched for reference with 'BT' in their title, there were few, and even fewer that related to safety trials.

What level of interference occurred with these? Well one author was Judy Carmen who's bad experience with Monsanto I've already described.

>*it could have been an FOIA request if they were a public body I suppose.*

No it was Monsanto not a public body, and it required a court order?

>*Now who was making allegations that climate scientists were hiding something because they weren't making the data available? Can you really not see the similarity in approach?*

No Chris I see Climate scientists sharing as much data as possible, while Monsanto with all the IP under their control blocking access to safety trials.

>And still no comment on the fact that millions have eaten GM food for decades with no ill effects.

By what epidemiological scientific basis can you demonstrate "no ill effects" Chris?

Judy Carmen [points out](http://www.gefreeaustralia.org/images/JUDY-download.pdf)

>the proponents of GM food and FSANZ argue that, because no-one has found any documented cases of people who have become ill from eating GM food, GM food must be safe.

>To see whether this statement makes sense, etâs assume for a moment that GM food is making people ill and see how easy it would be to find the proof that GM food is causing the illness. The first problem is to recognise that there is a new health problem in the community.

>Without full animal testing, we donât even know which diseases to look for in people. If the resultant disease is an existing disease, for example, cancer, that has a registry or effective surveillance system established for it, we will be alerted to an increase in that disease if people are paid to look for it.

>If the disease has no effective surveillance system, either because it is a new disease and therefore cannot be under surveillance, or because it is an existing disease without a surveillance system, the problem may go completely unnoticed. Most diseases have no surveillance system, including diseases that kill many Australians each year, such as asthma.

>Consequently, we are likely to be unaware of any problem until a critical mass of clinicians begins to individually recognise that they have been seeing a lot of syndrome X, start asking their colleagues if they have seen the same, and push for an investigation. If this does not happen, we may never know there is a problem.

>The HIV/AIDS epidemic went unnoticed for decades, even though it created memorable secondary infections, such as those obtained from cats, and had a focus in young gay men who tended to cluster geographically and see the same doctors. It was largely picked-up by chance, because record-keeping of one pharmaceutical drug, pentamidine, indicated an unusually high number of patients with a rare pneumonia, even though there were by then thousands of HIV/AIDS cases worldwide. We still do not know how many people are infected, even in Australia, which has one of the best surveillance systems in the world.

>It is also important to note that, by the time some surveillance data are collected and made available for analysis, several years can elapse. This can lead to a lag of several years between the cases occurring and appearing in a surveillance system. [cont...]

Could the stats-thumpers here please keep in mind that a statistically significant result is not the same as a significant result in terms of impact? (also goes vice versa)

So Dr. Carmen thinks that although we've not seen anything for 20+ years we might see some in the future? Seriously? Is that all you've got?

[Meanwhile](http://www.agbioforum.org/v9n3/v9n3a02-brookes.htm) "[S]ince 1996 ... there have been substantial net economic benefits at the farm level amounting to $5 billion in 2005 and $27 billion for the ten year period. The technology has reduced pesticide spraying by 224 million kg (equivalent to about 40% of the annual volume of pesticide active ingredient applied to arable crops in the European Union) and as a result, decreased the environmental impact associated with pesticide use by more than 15%. GM technology has also significantly reduced the release of greenhouse gas emissions from agriculture, which, in 2005, was equivalent to removing 4 million cars from the roads.

But you're right, there may be some unspecified health effects at some point in the future and Monsanto are evil so we'll just sideline the technology and carry on with Business As Usual instead.

chris s whined (yes he has reached the whining stage):

So Dr. Carmen thinks that although we've not seen anything for 20+ years we might see some in the future? Seriously? Is that all you've got?

How many years did it take to convince the tobacco industry that cigarettes caused lung cancer? Same people are involved in shilling for the GM industry. Check out the Avery's, Roger Bate et al., in fact [here is a list](http://www.gmwatch.org/myth-makers) of GM shills, check them out and you will find many whose names come up on a regular basis on this blog, whether it is climate change or DDT or whatever.

These despicable people get paid handsomely for arguing the case for any large corporation whose products have been shown to be detrimental to human health and the environment.

I find it sad that some one like chris, who seems to support climate change, is taken in by the same people who are shilling for the industry he is involved with. These are the same people, using the same tactics, but how he can give them a pass if they bring out lies and misinformation about GM is a mystery except to say that it is hard to criticize some thing if your pay cheque depends on it. Pitiful is all I can say about that.

Still no word from chris s on the atrocious goings on in Argentina and other South American countries.

It is also a mystery how he can support the nasty attacks on honest scientists who have shown the negative effects of GM products and technology. This shows how deeply he is involved with the GM industry despite his denials. Any real scientist would be out there supporting their colleagues not supporting those who are attacking them.

By Ian Forrester (not verified) on 29 Nov 2011 #permalink

WOW, chris s is really scraping the bottom of the barrel of Monsanto lies when he links to a report coming from "Agbioforum". That piece of fish wrap is nothing but a PR front for the biotech industry. There is no way that the US "has reduced pesticide spraying by 224 million kg". That is a down right lie.

The [most recent report](http://www.organic-center.org/reportfiles/13Years20091126_FullReport.pdf) co-sponsored by The Organic Center (TOC), the Union for Concerned Scientists (UCS) and the Center for Food Safety (CFS) shows :

The groups said research showed that herbicide use grew by 383 million pounds from 1996 to 2008, with 46 percent of the total increase occurring in 2007 and 2008.

The report was released by nonprofits The Organic Center (TOC), the Union for Concerned Scientists (UCS) and the Center for Food Safety (CFS).

Does chris s truly believe an industry PR package over a report by real scientists?

chris s is just digging himself deeper and deeper into smelly agricultural doo doo (GM of course ).

By Ian Forrester (not verified) on 29 Nov 2011 #permalink

I have been monitoring the GMO debate, and I have to say that Chris is certainly clutching at straws here. Like Borlaug's green revolution, all GMOs do is convince the uninitiated that there are no limits to agricultutal production, and that once apparent limitations to production are approached, that humans can apply quick techno-fixes that will forever increase the human carrying capacity. Unfortuneately, this is a vast illusion. GMOs deal with symptoms and not the disease, which is the extent to which the human enterprise is depleting nature. Plants that have been bioengineered to resist biotic or abiotic stresses do not alleviate the accumulating and deleterious effects of humans on natural systems. That can only be done through creating socially just political systems that do not make poor nations even more beholden to the economic whims of the rich world - and this technology, if anything, will do just that.

Despite vast amounts of PR, the technology is clealry not based at all on ending poverty or hunger - quite the opposite - it is just another form of economic imperialism aimed at making third world countries that are already crippled by debts to the US Treasuring in all of its guises (e.g. World Bank, IMF etc) more controlled than ever by western-based elites. The problem is not food production, anyway, and it never has been. Many farmers in the south cannot even afford a shovel, let alone an expensive technology in which the corporations want hard cash in return. There is enough food already to feed most people on Earth, its just that the political will to better distribute it through social justice and equity is absent. The problem with many of the world's most pressing environmental problems are therefore political, (the equity dilemma) whereby the planet's wealth is controlled by a very small elite sector of its population. Many of the agro-biotech firms have many bioprospectors searching countries in the south for plant and animal-based materials that they can collect (often with the help of local peoples), take back north, experimentally manipulate and patent. In other words, the technology is driven by commercial aspects and the concept of "Intellectual Property".

The science is also extremely basic and unsophisticated. Firing genetic material using a 'gene gun' into the genome of a recipient organism where it may end up anywhere and have a range of unpredictable effects is dangerous in my opinion. As Tokar and others explain, the creation of interphylogenetic crosses transcends any natural boundries and sets humanity in search of a brave new world in which the potential ecological and health-related consequences may only become apparent when it is way, way to late to do anything about them.

Chris has not also mentioned the resistance factor - how targeted organisms of course will respond to simple challenges created by plants expressing bacterial toxins - and as I learned at a conference in South Africa last year there are already a growing list of examples of herbivorous insects that are becoming locally adapted to these GM plants. Ultimately, a once uselful bacterial toxin will be rendered unusable because of overexposing it to insects that quickly evolve resistance. So crop producers may win a few battles, but, ultimately in the longer term, lose the war. GMOs will constitute a very small paret of an effective integrated pest management regimes - we should instead be finding ecological means of increasing the effect of top-down control in cropping systems, and by using extant genes within plants to creat more resistant strains; interphylogenetic GMOs will not play a major role, IMHO, of pest control down the road. Another major problem rarely discussed by the advocates of this technology is the loss of genetic variation that accompanies it in traditional farming practices. In the south, many farmers have collected their own seeds for generations, and many of these seeds exhibit highly uself traits that make them adapted to a suite of environmental challenges. GMOs turn many farmers into nothing more than serfs, like workers on an auot assembly line. When many farmers abandon traditional farming practices and grow a single GMO genotype, there is inevitably a huge loss of genetic material, with a concomitat loss in important traits. Genetic variation underpins the resilience and resistance of species in populations, leading to balancing selection, whereby one genotype may be favoured under one set of conditions and another genotype under another set of conditions. Once genetic variation is reduced to a bare minimum, as is likely when shifting to many GMOs, then a new pathogen or stress that would have been resisted by certain genotpyes under high diversity may decimate populations with low genetic diversity. Its too bad that many of those aggressively promting GMOs rarely address this critical fact. Again, they somehow think that humans can apply techo-fixes to any environmental problem, but lack any kind of inherent skills in understanding population genetics and adaptation.

And what about herbicide resistant weeds? A number of the most persistent weeds have now conclusively been shown to have evolved resistance to "Roundup Ready", and because of this, many farmers have had to increase the number of applications as well as the amount sprayed per unit of land. Far from reducing the amount of pesticides used, they have actually increased it, and in the process forced farmers to spend more and more on this glyphosate toxin. As they increase the dosage, of course, they expose weeds to more conditions under which they can evolve resitance more rapidly.

I think he ought to read Brian Tokar's quite excellent book, "Redesigning Life", with chapters by eminemt scientists and political activists, as well as Monique Robin's quite astonishing "The World According to Monsanto" which blows away any veneer that the agro-biotech firms - many just chemical pesticide corporations with PR makeovers - are interested in human welfare. Finally, if one peruses the political literature, its easy to find the views of many quite prominent western planners and politicians who over the past 60 years have explicitly laid out what they consider to be the real agendas. These have little or nothing to do with eradicating povery or hunger in the south, which, given the amount of evidence, should be patently obvious to most people with a few brain cells by now. They explain that western policies should aim to control, or even eliminate the nationalist aspirations of nations whose resources and raw materials we covet, even if this means doing everything to keep these countries poor; under extreme circumstances even promoting depopulation of less developed countries if their per capita consumption rates increase and thus threaten western access to the resource base. I have read tons of material which lays out western economic agendas quite clearly, so whenever I hear someone claim that GMOs are aimed at benefitting poor nations (bearing also in mind that the technology is controlled in the north) I can only shale my head in disbelief. Its amazing, though, how many people swallow this nonsense whole.

By Jeff Harvey (not verified) on 29 Nov 2011 #permalink

>Those are exactly the same stats & methods that you earlier used to claim *"Many of potential health concerns have been identified."* Do you still stand by that statement?

Compared to the standard required to scientifically demonstrate the safety of GMOs, a lower threshold of certainty is required to indicate potential health concerns that should be followed up. Wouldn't you agree?

An under-powered trial designed by Monsanto can lead to doubt either way about weather potential harm has been identified when reanalysed. However it does not meet the standards of demonstration of saftey

So its significant that the HCB [find that](http://www.food.gov.uk/multimedia/pdfs/acnfp9612a2):

>*not only the protocol but also the statistical analysis traditionally used by a number of petitioners, including Monsanto, show certain weaknesses that make it impossible to conclude with sufficient certainty that there are no health and environmental risks associated with GMOs.*

In fact, according the HCB these weakness in both Monsanto's protocol and statistical analysis are become more widely accepted, leading to tightening up of requirements for future trials.

What is required now is for people who support GMO to now support these higher standards and call for new trials. Supporters of GMO should also call for the removal of the veto powers of corporations over independent safety trials using their seed.

[Attacking the messengers](http://www.naturalfoodlist.com/4122/if-you-find-problems-with-genetical…) does not bring Monsanto's underpowered and inappropriate safety trial up to standard.

Ian at #197 - I don't want to be accused of shooting the messenger but you're comparing apples to oranges, herbicides and pesticides are two completely different things.

Monsanto's roundup resistant crops increases the use of the herbicide known as "roundup" that's what the crop is specifically designed for. It's no coincidence that Monsanto also make and sell roundup, so it's a kind of razor/razor blade business model for them.

I may be wrong but I don't think Monsanto are even in the pesticide business.

Alan at #201, I'm not sure what your point is but pesticide is a generic term for all forms of toxic chemicals, including herbicides, insecticides, fungicides, agaricides etc.

The "paper" (it is junk) that chris s referred to included both herbicides and insecticides in their claim that pesticide use had been reduced by 224 million kilograms.

Read the paper I cited, and others, and you will see that the GM industry's claims that their seeds are resulting in less pesticides being applied is just a lie. Herbicide tolerant crops have resulted in the use of more and more glyphosate since the weeds are becoming more resistant and thus require the use of more toxic and more expensive herbicides. This is a lose/lose situation for farmers and the environment. The use of insect toxic (BT) seeds has resulted in the use of more insecticides than previous because once again the insects are becoming resistant to the BT. In addition, other insects, which are not susceptible to the BT in the seeds are moving into the crops.

By Ian Forrester (not verified) on 29 Nov 2011 #permalink

Um, Alan:

http://www.monsanto.com/products/Pages/frequently-asked-questions.aspx

All pesticides in the U.S., including Roundup PROMAX, must be registered by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) before they can be sold. Before the agency can approve registration, a variety of stringent toxicity, crop residue and environmental fate studies must be conducted by the company and reviewed by the EPA. Only when the EPA finds the studies to be scientifically sound and accepts them can the pesticide be registered and sold in the U.S. In addition, many state agencies carefully review these studies, examine product uses for specific geographies, and apply their own strict registration to pesticides. Monsanto's glyphosate-based herbicides certainly have one of the most extensive worldwide human health, occupational safety and environmental databases ever completed on a pesticide product. The study of glyphosate continues today as new requirements come into existence or as Monsanto evaluates possible questions on its own.

Dr. Harvey am I reading your first paragraph correctly in dismissing the Green Revolution as an illusion? If you are then there's no further point in discussion as you're clearly looking at this through idealogical lenses that will prevent any productive discourse.

I shall point you to Borlaug's [30th Anniversary lecture to the Nobel Institute](http://www.nobelprize.org/nobel_prizes/peace/laureates/1970/borlaug-lec…) (pdf) and draw your attention to the graph at page 22 which shows ~12,000 million hectares of land spared from cereal production between 1950-1988. I shall return to the concept of "land sparing" over "land sharing" below.

Dr. Harvey: "That can only be done through creating socially just political systems that do not make poor nations even more beholden to the economic whims of the rich world - and this technology, if anything, will do just that."

I can agree with the first part of this comment but not the second part. An area the size of Germany is already farmed in Developing Nations specifically to [provide food for Europe](http://www.agripol.de/Final_Report_100505_Opera.pdf)(pdf). Of course the richer markets of the Developed World have an effect of increasing the prices of commodities further increasing the value of exported food over internal markets. This has the direct effect of reducing the food available to Developing Nations and causing starvation. And also makes "poor nations even more beholden to the economic whims of the rich world" - this is simple economics, even before you consider politics.

"Despite vast amounts of PR, the technology is clealry not based at all on ending poverty or hunger"

This is where our views start to diverge. You are conflating the technology itself with the current controllers of the technology. Yes, as I've stated several times the multi-nationals currently are the only bodies able to utilise the technology & they are more interested in profits than anything else. The technology itself does not have any political or economic view - it is technology. So to dismiss the SCIENCE on the basis of political ideology is throwing the baby out with the bathwater. In this case though the babies are not merely metaphorical they are very real and they are starving.

"There is enough food already to feed most people on Earth, its just that the political will to better distribute it through social justice and equity is absent."

This is a true point. Though I would argue that convincing your average Westerner to eat less rich food is more difficult than finding ways to make more food available.

"In other words, the technology is driven by commercial aspects and the concept of "Intellectual Property"."

And when in the late 1990s nine US professional agricultural science societies (encompassing 80000 members) attempted to oppose in Congress more elaborate (and costly) regulation and certification processes the multi-national companies (Monsanto, Bayer etc.) supported the new regulations because that effectively blocked public sector, small businesses & charitable organisation from developing products. (More info available in Lal et. al. (2005) Climate Change and Global Food Security)

(jakerman I think this addresses your point - I too would bring develpment of novel technologies under government control, or at least find some way of making it cheaper to bring them to market, thus loosening the grip of the multinationals on this technology).

"The science is also extremely basic and unsophisticated. Firing genetic material using a 'gene gun' into the genome of a recipient organism where it may end up anywhere and have a range of unpredictable effects is dangerous in my opinion."

This opinion is largely based on an outdated notion of the technology and a lack of knowledge of the initial research of any new GMO "event". I suggest you read a bit further on the current science in this area.

"Chris has not also mentioned the resistance factor"

I've mentioned before the attempts by those that are anti-GM Science to conflate issues of conventional agriculture with issues with GM technology (Ian has made a habit of it in this discussion - e.g. his Argentinian examples). I should be clear: There are issues that conventional agriculture has to tackle if ongoing food security is to be safeguarded. The resitance factor is one of them. But it is NOT an issue restricted to GM technology. Organophosphates are more or less obsolete as aphid control in the (GM-free) UK due to the resistance factor. Antibiotic resistance is a growing disaster in hospitals throughout the world. Attempts to conflate resistance with GM technology are anti-science and should be avoided.

"GMOs will constitute a very small paret of an effective integrated pest management regimes"

I'd take the very small out of that statement. IPM is a good new tool for agriculture...as is GM.

"Another major problem rarely discussed by the advocates of this technology is the loss of genetic variation that accompanies it in traditional farming practices. In the south, many farmers have collected their own seeds for generations, and many of these seeds exhibit highly uself traits that make them adapted to a suite of environmental challenges."

Again, this is a broader agriculture issue. in addition, anyone who has ever grown their own produce will tell you that seed saving leads to steadily decreasing yields and quality. Ironically the "terminator" technology that directly threatens seed saving through causing sterility is also the technology that will prevent dissemination of novel genes into the population. (As an aside I once heard about an anti-GM advocate declaring in a speech that the gene for sterility will spead through the ecosystem - I doubt she'd really thought that idea through...)

"Once genetic variation is reduced to a bare minimum, as is likely when shifting to many GMOs"

Speaking of not thinking things through... GM technology is, by its very nature, a technology to artificially increase variation (the clue is in the name).

"Its too bad that many of those aggressively promting GMOs rarely address this critical fact"

And it is too bad that those who are anti-GM science think this issue is not being worked on (one is reminded of all those climate change deniers trumpeting the divergence problem as something no-one's ever thought of before McIntyre came along).

"A number of the most persistent weeds have now conclusively been shown to have evolved resistance to "Roundup Ready""

There's glyphosate resitance in (GM free) Europe.

"many farmers have had to increase the number of applications as well as the amount sprayed per unit of land."

The issue at the heart of this (and it is an issue mirrored in antibiotic resistance) is lack of education leading to increased use of pesticides as a prophlyactic or because the farmer is not aware that because a weed doesn't shrivel up & die immediately (like they show on the adverts) the application hasn't worked and respraying is necessary. An issue with all conventional agriculture and one that could be easily tackled with better education.

I said I'd return to the issue of land sparing versus land sharing. The latter term encompasses the idea of farming for biodiversity through low-intensity extensive agriculture (including, but not exclusively Organic farming). This paradigm has seductive potential - much research has focussed on the benefits to farmland biodiversity of Organic farming. However, farmland biodiversity is not total biodiversity - you don't find many (e.g.) Marsh Fritillaries or Orang Utans on farms. The land sparing paradigm focusses on keeping the area of land under agriculture as low as possible whilst maintaining yield thus leaving greater amounts of land available for nature - either through agri-environment schemes or nature reserves, green corridoors etc. Bill Kunin's group at Leeds University have been looking at the tradeoffs of these two paradigms in detail and their latest research indicates that (economic caveats such as price elasticity aside) the land sharing paradigm needs to deliver yields of ~80% of the land sharing otion in order to show a benefit in biodiversity compared to the land sharing paradigm. At best Organic cultivation can deliver maybe ~70% of conventional yields and usually the comparisons put that much lower. So in order to maintain global human populations at the current & projected levels and also maintain biodiversity it appears that increased yield through intensification will be the better option than using more land for crops (remember the Borlaug figure at the top of this post).

I'll read Tokal's book (if I get it for Xmas) in return I urge those with a genuine interest in science to get their information from better sources than those organisations (such as GMWatch & Greenpeace) that have actively encouraged anti-science activities such as destroying trial crops and have effectively removed themselves from the scientific discourse to indulge in politically-motivated campaigning.

> Dr. Harvey am I reading your first paragraph correctly in dismissing the Green Revolution as an illusion

Even I can see you're not reading it correctly.

Here, for your education, is the relevant statement:

> Like Borlaug's green revolution, all GMOs do is convince the uninitiated that there are no limits to agricultutal production

GMO's definitely exist. Else James wouldn't have to talk about them.

HOWEVER, the revolution is proposed as giving the FALSE impression that there are no limits to food production.

Now, you could try to remonstrate that the Green Revolution didn't do that.

This would be unimportant, however, since the thread of conversation is hijacked to GMOs. You would need to show that GMOs either don't give the impression that there's no limit to food production when being sold to the man-in-the-street (practically impossible: all ads for GMOs say that this will SOLVE starvation), or that it does make that assertion and can fulfil it.

However, since your misreading displays a level of either wilful or genuine ignorance of language, it does seem rather pointless to discuss with you anything about GMOs: you've displayed no ability to read. How can we take your interpretation of a trial as correct in the face of such proof of inability to read?

ChrisS,

I appreciate your response. I never dismissed the green revolution, but I did say that, as many anticipated, it has had serious ecological impacts. And it certainly has not reduced the equity gap between those in the north and south, which is bigger now than at any time in human history.

You also had me on the floor with this: *food security is to be safeguarded*

By what, GMOs? Are you kidding me? The technology exists to safeguard the distribution of food today without GMO technology, but the will does not. As long as the north covets the resource base of poor countries to the south, and pursues policies that lead to the continued concentration of wealth, then the planet's ecological life support systems will continue to be destroyed. In 1983 Africa made up 4% of the global economy. Thirty years later, as a result of free market ideology run amok, characterized by deregulation, structual adjustment and nakedly predatory capitalism, that puny amount had shrunk to a pithy 1.3%. We are seeing capital flows increase from the south to the north, and with it deeper and deeper poverty become concentrated. I don't even want to speculate how anyone can consider how technologies hoarded in the north (not to be shared) will create food security. This is pure and utter folly.

GM technology, for the millionth time, has nix to do with food security. It has everything to do with profit maximization otherwise the multinationals at the heart of this technology would not be so anxious to ensure that it falls within the realm of intellectual property. And this technology is controlled by the north, and always will be. If you were to try and understand a bit more about western economic and political agendas, you'd realize that altruism towards people in the south has nothing to do with them. Samir Amin, Africa's leading economist, spoke at the World Social Forum at Peurto Allegre in Brazil in 2003. He accurately summed up western policy towards the south when he said that integrating these countries into a cogent social order is not on the agenda; western countries only aim at looting the resources of the poor countries. This theme has been taken up well by Irish economist Patrick Bond in his outstanding book: "Looting Africa: The Economics of Exploitation" (2006) and Tom Athanasiou in his book, "Divided Planet: The Ecology of Rich and Poor".

I hate to be harsh, but if you think for one moment that GM technology is being driven to create social justice and to eliminate social injustice, then I think that you are very much in need of medical attention.

You have also not addressed the issue of the loss of genetic variation through the railroading of GM technology through traditional farming practices. I have talked with enough colleagues from the less developed nations to know that, once certain genes are lost, they are lost forever. The GM corporations don't give a rat's ass about ecological viability and safe methods of pest control. Their singular aim is short term profit maximization, and by short term i mean no more than 2-3 years (at most) down the road. Many new technologies have traditionally proven in the past to have nasty stings in the tail, as we know, from CFCs and fossil fuels, to synthetic organic pesticides. As I said, GMOs may deal with a few symptoms but not the underlying disease. I have to admit that I cringe every time I hear some amoral corporation pull out the PR stops and to use the specter of world hunger to foist their technology onto countries whose governments are bought, paid for and beholden to the west.

I could write pages and pages on this topic alone, but don't have the time. But the bottom line is that the solution to hunger and social injustice does not IMHO involve transgenic technology. It is political, and always has been, but, as I said, the will is not there.

By Jeff Harvey (not verified) on 03 Dec 2011 #permalink

Dr. Harvey thank you for the clarification. It seems to me that your argument now boils down to a) agriculture is bad for the environment, b) that GM technology wonât solve the iniquities of modern politics and c) that the multinational GM corporations are in it for profit.
To be honest I find nothing wrong with any of those statements. But I also find no reason to dismiss the science of GM based on them. To cover these points in more detail:

a) âas many anticipated, it has had serious ecological impacts.â

As serious as an additional 12 billion hectares under cultivation, for cereals alone, between the 1950s & 1990s? Perhaps, perhaps not. What is clear is that the green revolution allowed for increased food production whilst maintaining more land for non-agricultural uses than would have been the case without it. Going forward, Foley et al stated in [Solutions for a Cultivated Planet]( http://www.nature.com/nature/journal/v478/n7369/full/nature10452.html#/…) (Nature, 2011) that âincreasing food production without agricultural expansion implies that we must increase production on our existing agricultural lands. The best places to improve crop yields may be on underperforming landscapes, where yields are currently below average ⦠Better deployment of existing crop varieties with improved management should be able to close many yield gaps, while continued improvements in crop genetics will probably increase potential yields into the future.â (See also Fig. 3 and the supplementary materials).

b) âThe technology exists to safeguard the distribution of food today without GMO technology, but the will does not. As long as the north covets the resource base of poor countries to the south, and pursues policies that lead to the continued concentration of wealth, then the planet's ecological life support systems will continue to be destroyed.â

There is a great need to solve the disparity in resource use between rich & poor nations â one that is only going to widen as the BRIC, TICK & CIVETS nations increase their consumption and aspirations. To throw out a technology with potential to alleviate this issue through increased production seems a little dumb to me.
Foley et al again: âEven if we solve these food access challenges, much more crop production will probably be needed to guarantee future food security. Recent studies suggest that production would need to roughly double to keep pace with projected demands from population growth, dietary changes (especially meat consumption), and increasing bioenergy use, unless there are dramatic changes in agricultural consumption patterns.â

c) âGM technology, for the millionth time, has nix to do with food security. It has everything to do with profit maximization otherwise the multinationals at the heart of this technology would not be so anxious to ensure that it falls within the realm of intellectual property.â

Iâm a little confused by the idea that because the multi-nationals are in it for the money we should therefore reject the underlying science. After all, we do not reject medical science because of the predations of big-pharma, why do we with GM science?

For insight on what can be achieved when the profit motive is largely removed from GM technology look no further than [Oxitec](http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/science-environment-15491228) and their work on eliminating dengue vectors in the Cayman Islands & elsewhere.

Other issues: âYou have also not addressed the issue of the loss of genetic variation through the railroading of GM technology through traditional farming practices.â

This assumes that climate change will not affect said traditional farming practices does it not? It seems a little silly to insist on preserving crops genetically adapted to a climate that is no longer there.

âI have to admit that I cringe every time I hear some amoral corporation pull out the PR stopsâ

As I cringe when the anti-GM lobby overextends itself in its own PR. As I think is clear, the anti-GM lobby left the science behind years ago to its own, and humanities detriment.

There are two entities lobbying for increased regulation of GM crops â the anti-GM science lot and the Corporations that profit most from it. Does that not give you pause?

âI hate to be harsh, but if you think for one moment that GM technology is being driven to create social justice and to eliminate social injustice, then I think that you are very much in need of medical attention.â

Thanks Dr. Harvey, I think the conversation has come to an end, Iâll send the paramedics to Oxitec.

> It seems to me that your argument now boils down to a) agriculture is bad for the environment

Wrong.

> b) that GM technology wonât solve the iniquities of modern politics

So are you contending it will?

> c) that the multinational GM corporations are in it for profit.

Are you claiming they don't?

> To be honest I find nothing wrong with any of those statements.

Apparently, no.

> But I also find no reason to dismiss the science of GM based on them.

Nobody is dismissing the science of GM. Genetic modification can be done.

It won't, however, stop starvation.

And you now seem to have thrown out the core problem with Fluffers For GM Food (tm): that the selling of the idea of GM is that they will solve world hunger.

They won't.

ChrisS,

I am really busy right now and will try - that being the operative word - to reply in detail later.

I would just like to say one short thing though - enabling a small cluster of immensesly powerful, transnational corporations to take over the human food chain should raise alarm bells with everyone. We aren't seeing a democratic transition to GMO-based agriculture - its being forced down the throats of farming communities across wide swathes of the planet with all kinds of economic blackmail applied as a means of coercion.

This is not the way to achieve sustainable agriculture and food security - its just another example of economic neocolonialism with potentially grave social, political and environmental consequences that will unfold in the coming decades.

By Jeff Harvey (not verified) on 06 Dec 2011 #permalink

clearly looking at this through idealogical lenses that will prevent any productive discourse

Snort.

There are two entities lobbying for increased regulation of GM crops â the anti-GM science lot and the Corporations that profit most from it.

Which one is Dr. Harvey a part of?

Honestly, not regulating such technology is clearly foolhardy, and implying that, other than profit-oriented corporations, the only people who favor regulation are "anti-science" is the ultimate in intellectual dishonesty and ideological lenses.

ianam, you may have missed this as it was buried in a previous comment so I'll repeat it here:

"In the late 1990s nine US professional agricultural science societies (encompassing 80000 members) attempted to oppose in Congress more elaborate (and costly) regulation and certification processes, the multi-national companies supported the new regulations."

For more on this see Havener et al. in Lal et al. Climate Change & Global Food Security.

Havener et al. go on to say: "the documentation required by regulators for any single GMO "event" is likely to cost upwards of US$ 1 million. This high cost becomes a barrier to all but the largest research organisations - and the most profitable GMO traits. It prevents smaller research laboratories from bringing products to market, as well as public sector research efforts. Effectively, the regulations have created a large and growing divide between the R&D functions, with publicly funded organizations focussing on the "R" for an array of useful traits, but with little hope to engage actively in the "D" function of bringing research findings to fruition in the marketplace. This regulatory barrier has already been encountered with the so-called pro-Vitamin A "golden rice" and is likely to affect most GMO research in orphan crops and the new work to expand micronutrient biofortification. A return to more reasonable regulations - based on the effect of the trait and not the transformation process itself - is urgently needed ... [T]he private sector will only invest when and where a future stream of profits is envisioned."

Fittingly, Havener et al. conclude: "As citizens priveliged to speak our hearts and minds, we must become advocates for access of all people, both at home and abroad, to adequate health care and improved educational systems. We must also become more active environmentalists. It is truly a shame that by and large those of us highly trained in the biological and natural sciences have left the field of environmental advocacy to those who are much less well trained and frequently highly biased in their approach. Our silence has often contributed to unfortunate policies based on ignorance. Finally, we can and must become spokespersons for "science in the service of humankind". The recent debates surrounding GMOs is but one of many contemporary issues, but it illustrates dramatically how ill-informed policymakers can directly harm the lives of poor people. We must defend good and useful science whenever and wherever it is challenged".

> This high cost becomes a barrier to all but the largest research organisations

But this barrier is the result of the complete inability of corporations and the profit motive from being able to self-regulate.

And again doesn't refute Jeff's original point: GMO is presented as the solution to starvation when it isn't.

PS I think this conversation needs to go on an Open Thread, not one about the CRU email controversy rejects.

I think the conversation has come to an end

Just can't stick that flounce, eh Chris?

Your economic arguments for why regulation is a bad bad thing do not sway me.

P.S. I would note that `#`212 is entirely an argument from authority. I have no reason to think that Tammy Havener's opinions on this matter are more credible than the opinions of other scientists who differ.

[http://dotearth.blogs.nytimes.com/2011/12/06/in-nepal-farmers-struggle-…](Synchronicity?)

"What is important is that decision makers and stakeholders bring the focus of the debate back to the core question: the appropriate role of hybrids as part of a comprehensive strategy for Nepalâs agricultural development. To single out Monsanto, or any other company, serves no useful purpose in this discussion and distracts from the critical issues to be addressed ...

Other opponents of hybrid seeds argue that hybrids encourage dependence and are part of a new form of economic imperialism by the developed world. I disagree, but at the end of the day what I believe is not important. Nepalis must make that decision for themselves. I urge, however, that you listen not just to the foes but that you give just as much consideration to the voice of the farmer who argues that greater productivity and increased incomes stemming from hybrid use can improve his life and the future of his children while transforming agriculture in Nepal.

The bottom line? Let facts, not conjecture, emotion or misinformation, inform this important debate."

-Scott deLisi, quoted by Andy Revkin.

Chris, give it a rest.

Nobody is buying you have anything worth reading to say on the subject.

For an interesting vision of where capitalism + GMO could go, read "The Windup Girl" by Paolo Bacigalupi.

>*"In the late 1990s nine US professional agricultural science societies (encompassing 80000 members) attempted to oppose in Congress more elaborate (and costly) regulation and certification processes, the multi-national companies supported the new regulations."*

"*[M]ore elaborate (and costly) regulation*" does not mean well designed nor did it require open independent trials. "[E]laborate (and costly) regulation" can be pushed by corporations for their own designs rather than the public good.

Monsanto still get to veto research studies they don't like, and Monsanto gained approval for their product with trials that are now widely understood to be inappropriate and which:

>*show certain weaknesses that make it impossible to conclude with sufficient certainty that there are no health and environmental risks associated with GMOs.*

`#`217: Argument from authority and strawman. I notice that nowhere in his statement does Ambassador DeLisi rail against regulation or accuse those who favor it of being anti-science.

For an interesting vision of where capitalism + GMO could go, read "The Windup Girl" by Paolo Bacigalupi.

Yes, well, it's SciFi, which is a medium for visions irrespective of their accuracy or plausibility ... I would not cite such things as any sort of argument for or against anything.

There is a very good reason that Nepal does not want hybrid maize whether it is from Monsanto or any one else. It has failed in many places. Farmers are very skeptical of Western companies pushing their "solutions", "solutions" which they now know to be not working in the West.

Here is a report [from Nepal](http://www.ekantipur.com/the-kathmandu-post/2011/11/09/top-story/hybrid…):

The USAID statement said Nepal needs assistance in maize production to help farmers reap benefits by producing high corn yields through the introduction of hybrid seeds.

However, agronomists say that hybrid seeds introduced in the past have failed to improve food security.

âOur local breeds are as good as hybrid seeds. However, the introduction of hybrid seeds to help farmers to yield good production in a short span without considering the huge costs involved in it has threatened the existence of our own local breeds,â said Mina Nath Poudel, senior agronomist and scientist at the National Agriculture Research Council (NARC), who has carried out research on open pollinated seed varieties found locally. Once farmers start using the hybrid and GM seeds, they become totally dependent on companies or firms distributing the seeds, Poudel said. The high dependency of the farmers on the companies and firms and the need to invest more on pesticides and fertilizers make the use of hybrid sees rather expensive for Nepali farmers, experts say.

In a recent case in 2010, farmers in Bara, Rautahat, Sarlahi, Parsa and Nawalparasi districts demonstrated against the government after their maize crops failed. Under the maize mission programme implemented by the Swiss Development Cooperation, the farmers were provided hybrid maize seeds at subsidised rates by multinational companies. However, the production plunged by 53 percent in the third year of cultivation in these districts in 2010 that left the poor farmers high and dry.

Solutions in these countries will have to involve local farmers and people who understand the local conditions.

There is a big misconception that only GM technology can solve the food problem. Nothing could be further from the truth. In fact only non-GM technology has offered any benefits to local farmers. There are many examples where traditional technology has resulted in crops with benefits to farmers. If anyone is interested in looking at this a very good starting point is [this page](http://www.gmwatch.org/component/content/article/31-need-gm/12305-non-g…).

New technologies such as "marker assisted breeding" is making traditional plant breeding much quicker and better.

By Ian Forrester (not verified) on 06 Dec 2011 #permalink